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Knowing the Exculpatory Clause

Exculpatory Clause

An exculpatory clause is a clause of a contract in which one of the parties releases the other party from liability for their actions. An exculpatory clause may or may not be considered contrary to the public interest depending upon what field the party seeking the release of liability typically operates.

A contractual clause which limits liability is not automatically grounds that the contract will be declared unenforceable during a contract dispute. Limited liability clauses are permitted in many contracts. The only time they may become an issue is if the contract dispute involves an exculpatory clause that seeks to invalidate the liability claim regardless of which party is at fault.

An exculpatory claim in which the liability for all personal injury or monetary damage will frequently be upheld if the party seeking relief is a private business, such as an amusement park, health club, or general recreational facility. Relief is often granted from suits filed against parties that are not considered essential to the public good or involved in public health. For these types of companies, exculpatory clauses are generally held to be enforceable.

A contract dispute with a public utility company, a bank, or a company which carries public goods in which an attempt is made to invoke an exculpatory clause is usually bound for failure. The courts have generally invalidated exculpatory clauses in these contracts because of the belief that allowing these companies to escape liability would be detrimental to the public good.

If a lease contains an exculpatory clause it may be enforceable or unenforceable depending on the purpose for which the property is leased. If an exculpatory clause is present when there is a contract dispute regarding the lease of a commercial property, the exculpatory clause will usually be enforced.

If the property is residential, the exculpatory clause in the contract dispute will usually be considered unenforceable by the courts. This distinction is made because it is generally considered more detrimental to the public good to inflict harm against individuals than is harming a commercial enterprise.

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