Exculpatory Provisions in Business Contracts

Green notebook titled Contracts

An exculpatory provision in a contract is a provision that relieves one party from liability for damages.

May 30, 2018
David Adelstein - Florida Construction Legal Updates

An exculpatory provision in a contract is a provision that relieves one party from liability for damages. It shifts the risk of an issue entirely to the other party. Such a provision is generally drafted by the party preparing the contract that is looking to eliminate or disclaim liability associated with a particular risk, oftentimes a risk within their control. These provisions are also known as limitation of liability provisions because they do exactly that — limit liability as to a risk. For this reason, they can be useful provisions based on the context of certain risks, and are provisions that are included in business contracts (such as construction contracts).

While such clauses are disfavored, they are enforceable if they are drafted clearly, unambiguously, and unequivocally. If they are unclear, ambiguous, or equivocal, they will construed against enforcement. See Obsessions In Time, Inc. v. Jewelry Exchange Venture, LLP, 43 Fla.L.Weekly D1033a (Fla. 3d DCA 2018) (finding exculpatory clause in lease ambiguous and, therefore, unenforceable as to lessor looking to benefit from the exculpatory clause).

Mr. Adelstein may be contacted at dadelstein@gmail.com



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