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An agreement between attorneys that concerns business before a court and is designed to simplify or shorten litigation and save costs. During the course of a civil lawsuit, criminal proceeding, or any other type of litigation, the opposing attorneys may come to an agreement about certain facts and issues. Such an agreement is called a stipulation. Courts look with favor on stipulations because they save time and simplify the matters that must be resolved. Stipulations are voluntary, however, and courts may not require litigants to stipulate with the other side. A valid stipulation is binding only on the parties who agree to it. Courts are usually bound by valid stipulations and are required to enforce them.

Parties may stipulate to any matter concerning the rights or obligations of the parties. The litigants cannot, however, stipulate as to the validity or constitutionality of a statute or as to what the law is, because such issues must be determined by the court.

Stipulations may cover a variety of matters. Parties are permitted to make stipulations to dismiss or discontinue an action, to prescribe the issues to be tried, or to admit, exclude, or withdraw evidence. During a court proceeding, attorneys often stipulate to allow copies of papers to be admitted into evidence in lieu of originals or to agree to the qualifications of a witness. The parties can also enter into agreements concerning the testimony an absent witness would give if he were present, and the stipulated facts can be used in evidence. Such evidentiary devices are used to simplify and expedite trials by dispensing with the need to prove uncontested factual issues.

Generally, parties to an action can stipulate as to an agreed statement of facts on which to submit their case to the court. Stipulations of this nature are encouraged by the courts. A number of other stipulations have been held to be valid, including those that relate to attorneys' fees and costs.

A stipulation does not need to be in a particular form, provided it is definite and certain. A number of statutes and court rules provide that stipulations reached out of court must be in writing to prevent fraudulent claims of oral stipulation, circumvent disputes concerning the terms of the stipulation, and relieve the court of the burden of resolving such disputes. Though an oral stipulation in open court is binding, a stipulation made in the judge's chamber must be in writing.


n. an agreement, usually on a procedural matter, between the attorneys for the two sides in a legal action. Some stipulations are oral, but the courts often require that the stipulation be put in writing, signed, and filed with the court.


noun agreement, arrangement, article of agreement, bargain, bond, compact, concordat, condition, contract, convention, covenant, deal, pact, pactum, promise, provise, specification, stipulatio, treaty, understanding
Associated concepts: stipulated facts, stipulation of settlement
See also: adjustment, agreement, assignment, attornment, bargain, choice, clause, compact, condition, consent, contract, covenant, designation, indenture, option, pact, pledge, prerequisite, promise, protocol, provision, qualification, reservation, security, selection, specialty, specification, term, ultimatum, undertaking


a term in an agreement or a promise.

STIPULATION, contracts. In the Roman law, the contract of stipulation was made in the following manner, namely; the person to whom the promise was to be made, proposed a question to him from whom it was to proceed, fully expressing tho nature and extent of the engagement and, the question so proposed being answered in the affirmative, the obligation was complete.
     2. It was essentially necessary that both parties should speak, (so that a dumb man could not enter into a stipulation) that the person making the promise should answer conformably to the specific question, proposed, without any material interval of time, and with the intention of contracting an obligation.
     3. From the general use of this mode of contracting, the term stipulation has been introduced into common parlance, and, in modern language, frequently refer's to any thing which forms a material article of an agreement; though it is applied more correctly and more conformably to its original meaning to denote the insisting upon and requiring any particular engagement. 2 Evans' Poth. on Oblig. 19.
     4. In this contract the Roman law dispensed with an actual consideration. See, generally, Pothier, Oblig. P. 1, c. 1, s. 1, art. 5.
     5. In the admiralty courts, the first process is frequently to arrest the defendant, and then they take the recognizances or stipulation of certain fide jussors in the nature of bail. 3 Bl. Comm. 108; vide Dunlap's Adm. Practice, Index, h.t.
     6. These stipulations are of three sorts, namely: l. Judicatum solvi, by which the party is absolutely bound to pay such sum as may be adjudged by the court. 2 De judico sisti, by which he is bound to appear from time to time, during the pendency of the suit, and to abide the sentence. 3. De ratio, or De rato, by which he engages to ratify the acts of his proctor: this stipulation is not usual in the admiralty courts of the United States.
     7. The securities are taken in the following manner, namely: 1. Cautio fide jussoria, by sureties. 2. Pignoratitia; by deposit. 3. Juratoria, by oath: this security is given when the party is too poor to find sureties, at the discretion of the court. 4. Aude promissoria, by bare promise: this security is unknown in the admiralty courts of the United States. Hall's Adm. Pr. 12; Dunl. Adm. Pr. 150, 151. See 17 Am. Jur. 51.