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Related to Extinguishment: Early Extinguishment of Debt


The destruction or cancellation of a right, a power, a contract, or an estate.

Extinguishment is sometimes confused with merger, though there is a clear distinction between them. Merger is only a mode of extinguishment, and applies to estates only under particular circumstances, but extinguishment is a term of general application to rights, as well as estates. Extinguishment connotes the end of a thing, precluding the existence of future life therein; in mergers there is a carrying on of the substance of the thing, except that it is merged into and becomes a part of a separate thing with a new identity.

Two ways in which the extinguishment of a debt can occur are by release or by payment. Extinguishment of legacy takes place where what has been bequeathed by will ceases to exist. Extinguishment of rent may take place by the tenant purchasing the rented property from the landlord or by grant, release, or surrender of the rental agreement.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


n. the cancellation or destruction of a right, quite often because the time for enforcement has passed. Example: waiting more than four years after the due date to make a demand for payment on a promissory note wipes out the person's right to collect the money owed to him/her. It can also occur by fulfilling the obligation so no further money or performance is due.

Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.

EXTINGUISHMENT, contracts. The destruction of a right or contract, the act by which a contract is made void.
     2. Art extinguishment may be by matter of fact and by matter of law. 1. It is by matter of fact either express, as when one receives satisfaction and full payment of a debt, and the creditor releases the debtor 11 John. 513'; or implied, as when a person hath a yearly rent out of, lands and becomes owner either by descent or purchase, of the estate subject to the payment of the rent, the latter is extinguished 3 Stew. 60; but the person must have as high an estate in the land as in the rent, or the rent will not be extinct. Co. Litt. 147. See Merger.
     3. There are numerous cases where the claim is extinguished b operation of law; for example, where two persons are jointly, but not severally liable, for a simple contract debt, a judgment obtained against one is at common law an extinguishment of the claim on the other debtor. Pet. C. C. 301; see 2 John. 213. Vide, generally, Bouv. Inst. Index, h.t.; 2 Root, 492; 3 Conn. 62; 1 Hamm. 187; 11 John. 513; 4 Conn. 428; 6 Conn. 373; 1 Halst. 190 4 N. H. Rep. 251 Co. Litt. 147 b; 1 Roll. Ab. 933 7 Vin. Ab. 367; 11 Vin. Ab. 461; 18 Vin. Ab. 493 to 515 3 Nels. Ab. 818; 14 Serg. & Rawle, 209; Bac. Ab. h.t.; 5 Whart. R. 541. Vide Discharge of a Debt.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
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Applying this criterion to the previous example, the entity would recognize a loss on the extinguishment of debt.
Any attempt to make an extinguishment order would be likely to trigger a public inquiry, a process taking at least a year, and, owing to current legislation, would be "extremely unlikely" to succeed, they concluded.
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