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Release Agreements for Individuals, Small, and Large Business Deals

Apr 23, 2008
A release is the action by which a person is relieved of an obligation, liabilities, or responsibility of any sort that they have either by legal, customary or contractual obligation. The agreement between two parties in which they reach consent regarding this release is considered to be the release agreement.

The release can also give up a right, such as releasing a person from his/her liability for damage or harm that may occur or has occurred. This damage could come from performance under a contract, or participation in an activity. Some activities which are considered inherently dangerous often require those who participate to sign a release form which acknowledges that the individual is assuming all responsibility for any harm coming from participation in the activity. The release agreement then acts as an assurance that the person requesting the release will not be subjected to any legal action relating to the signing party's actions.

A release agreement may also be a condition for the acceptance of benefits when a claim is settled. A release agreement can be a legally enforceable promise that the party will not proceed with a legal claim in exchange for some sort of compensation. The person who receives the benefit agrees in writing that the person making the settlement has fully taken care of their responsibility regarding the claim and will no longer be liable. The release gives up the signing party's, or releasor's, right to sue the party who is requesting the release, the releasee.

The specific terms of the release document direct the range of actions that the released party is protected from liability for. However, sometimes simply using a product is conditioned on a release or waiver of liability without an actual signature. This is often the case when accepting terms of use for software or an Internet website. This is a type of implied release.

There are basically two types of releases. The first involves giving up, abandoning, or discharging a right of action. The second type involves conveying a party's interest or right (including ownership) to another party. Release agreements involving real estate can involve the passing of an estate, the passing of a right, or the enlargement of an estate.

Releases may be most often associated with lawsuits. Often the first draft of a release agreement will be rather broad. A proposed release agreement may even extend to any future claims that the plaintiff may have against the defendant, including claims that are not yet known. A proposed release agreement may also extend to other parties beside the defendant. The idea is that any other possible defendant, known or unknown, is also released by the agreement. These agreements may require the plaintiff to compensate the defendant for all costs and their attorney fees associated with any litigation. The agreement may go so far as to cover litigation which is beyond the plaintiff's control. Before signing a release agreement, a plaintiff should be certain that they are not agreeing to any terms extending beyond the immediate parties. They may want to include this in writing.

It is important to note that any release acquired by fraud is not valid. Also, any release that is given for deliberate wrongdoing or wanton and willful misconduct will generally not be enforced.
About the Author
Mark Warner is a Legal Research Analysts for RealDealDocs.com. RealDealDocs gives you insider access to millions of legal documents drafted by the top law firms in the US. To find Release Agreements, click here. Free Search!
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