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I've seen this phrase added to various sentences in different contracts. A quick Google search also reveals that the phrase shows up in many Terms of Service or Terms of Use agreements.

There are some postings online that suggest this phrase is superfluous. For example: http://www.adamsdrafting.com/for-the-avoidance-of-doubt/

Does the phrase "for the avoidance of doubt" have any legal meaning or any effect on the interpretation of a contract? Why is it added on some cases?

  • I don't see how any answer here could add to the thorough analysis you link to. Are you hoping to elicit a rebuttal? – phoog Mar 25 '16 at 2:53
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    While I did find that analysis I linked to, I was not successful in finding very much on the subject despite how pervasive the language seems to be. I suppose I was interested to see if there is any agreement or rebuttal on the topic, and if people's responses would provide any further information, perspective, or clarity. – user4890 Mar 25 '16 at 3:05
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The phrase is added to ensure that a portion of the contract is construed as the parties intended.

For example, say the terms of a contract already imply some particular term. To make it clear that this is what the parties intended, they may also state that term explicitly. The problem is, if you specify a term a particular way, a party could argue that interpreting another part of the contract to mean that very same thing would render that portion of the contract redundant and therefore it should be interpreted some other way.

The phrase "for avoidance of doubt" indicates a part of an agreement that is intended to restate what another portion of the contract (often in conjunction with applicable law) already implies. The phrase is added to ensure that the restatement won't be pointed to as a way to argue that other parts of the contract should be interpreted differently than intended.

It is often used where it's superfluous and there it should be avoided because it will actually do the opposite of what's intended -- implying that what it covers is covered elsewhere when it actually isn't, possibly leading to other portions of the contract becoming ambiguous or subject to misintepretation.

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After 20+ years in law, I've concluded that it means "What we just said is so badly written, we have to say more to try it again". It is a hallmark of poor drafting and an indication that the preceding wording needs to be reconsidered.

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