Overview of the Law
In those jurisdictions which have no bar to releases as a matter of law, the Courts almost uniformly decree the following general principle of law.
A release will be upheld as valid and enforceable in those circumstances where the parties, within an atmosphere of equal bargaining position, without reservation and with full knowledge and understanding of the legal consequences, enter into the relationship freely and not subject to duress, deception or deceit.
In short, the parties must agree to the release knowing full well that they are giving up their legal rights.
The initial step in reviewing whether a release is valid involves application of basic contract law. In simple terms, a contract is defined as:
An agreement between two or more competent parties which creates an obligation to do or not to do a particular act or action.
For a release to have legal effect the agreement must be in writing and expressly pronounce the intent of the parties obligating themselves to the agreement.