Recitals in Contract Meaning

When reviewing contracts, it’s important to understand the meaning and purpose of the different sections that make up the document. One such section that often causes confusion is the recitals. In this article, we’ll explore what recitals in a contract mean and how they impact the agreement.

What is a Recital in a Contract?

A recital is a statement at the beginning of a contract that provides background information, context, or explanations that help define the purpose and scope of the agreement. Recitals are often written in a narrative form and are meant to be read as a whole to give the reader a sense of the agreement and its underlying intentions.

Recitals can serve several purposes in a contract, including:

1. Setting the Stage for the Agreement: Recitals can provide essential information that sets the stage for the agreement, such as the parties’ names, the date, and the location of the agreement. They can also provide relevant background information about the parties’ relationship, previous agreements, or other relevant circumstances that led to the current contract.

2. Establishing the Purpose and Intent of the Agreement: Recitals often outline the main purpose of the agreement and the parties’ underlying intentions. They can also identify the benefits that each party expects to receive from the agreement.

3. Providing Definitions and Context: Recitals can define key terms used in the agreement. This can be especially helpful when dealing with technical terms or legal language that may be unclear to the reader.

Why are Recitals Important?

Recitals play a critical role in a contract as they help both parties understand the intention and purpose of the agreement. They also serve as a guiding principle for the interpretation of the obligations and liabilities outlined in the agreement.

Recitals provide direction and context for the contract, and they can be used to prevent misunderstandings and disputes that may arise from ambiguous language or interpretations. They help to set expectations and clarify the roles and responsibilities of each party.

How are Recitals Used in Contract Interpretation?

Recitals can be used to interpret the agreement’s provisions in several ways, including:

1. Understanding the Background and Purpose of the Agreement: Recitals provide a narrative background and context for the agreement, which can be used to interpret the main provisions and obligations outlined in the agreement. They ensure that the parties’ intentions and expectations are understood and respected.

2. Determining the Scope of the Agreement: Recitals can help define the scope of the agreement and the parties’ obligations and liabilities. This can be especially helpful when dealing with complex or long-term agreements.

3. Interpreting Ambiguous Language: Recitals can be used to interpret ambiguous language in the contract. They provide context and explanations that help clarify the meaning of the contract language.


Recitals are an important part of any contract as they provide essential background information and context for the agreement. They help to set the stage for the agreement’s provisions and ensure that the parties’ intentions and expectations are understood and respected. When interpreting a contract, it’s important to consider the recitals along with the other provisions of the agreement to fully understand the scope and purpose of the contract. A well-written set of recitals can help prevent misunderstandings and disputes and ensure that the agreement is interpreted in a fair and reasonable manner.

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