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An individual who undertakes an obligation to pay a sum of money or to perform some duty or promise for another in the event that person fails to act.

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


n. a guarantor of payment or performance if another fails to pay or perform, such as a bonding company which posts a bond for a guardian, an administrator, or a building contractor. Most surety agreements require that a person looking to the surety (asking for payment) must first attempt to collect or obtain performance from the responsible person or entity. (See: guarantor, bond)

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


a guarantor of another's obligation.
Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006

SURETY, contracts. A person who binds himself for the payment of a sum of money or for the performance of something else, for another, who is already bound for the same. A surety differs from a guarantor, and the latter cannot be sued until after a suit against the principal. 10 Watts, 258.
     2. The surety differs from bail in this, that the latter actually has, or is by law presumed to have, the custody of his principal, while the former has no control over him. The bail may surrender his principal in discharge of his obligation; the surety cannot be discharged by such surrender.
     3. In Pennsylvania it has been decided that the creditor is bound to sue the principal when requested by the surety, and the debt is due; and that when proper notice is given by the surety that unless the principal be sued, be will consider himself discharged, he will be so considered, unless the principal be sued. 8 Serg. & Rawle, 116; 15 Serg. & Rawle, 29, 30; S. P. in Alabama, 9 Porter, R. 409. But in general a creditor may resort to the surety for the payment of his debt in the first place, without applying to the principal. 1 Watts, 28O; 7 Ham. part 1, 223. Vide Bouv. Inst. Index, h.t.; Contribution; Contracts; Suretyship.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
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