Stipulations are common during court proceedings. In most instances, a stipulation is agreed to by both parties to a lawsuit. Essentially, a stipulation is an oral or written agreement between the two parties that usually concerns an issue before the court but which both sides agree on. For example, both parties may agree about the qualifications of a witness and the attorneys for both sides will stipulate their agreement about the witness’ qualifications. Not only are stipulations relatively routine during court proceedings, but they offer significant benefits to both parties to a lawsuit, as well as to the court itself. Here are just three of those benefits.
Stipulations simplify things
The trial process is designed to be adversarial in nature, with both parties to a lawsuit trying to convince a judge or jury that their interpretation of the facts is correct. However, while court proceedings can be fraught, that doesn’t mean that both parties to a lawsuit disagree about absolutely everything. Many court proceedings are relatively routine and will have little bearing on the outcome of the case. In such cases, both attorneys can simply stipulate that they are in agreement about a certain issue and thus avoid an unnecessary dispute. Disputing every last detail of a case is simply unnecessary in most instances and would make even the most straightforward of lawsuits overly complicated.
Stipulations save courts time
Judges tend to look favorably on stipulations since they can save the court a great deal of time. Courts in many parts of the country are already dealing with a backlog of cases, which in turn is causing problems in delivering justice to the population in a timely manner. Because stipulations allow routine matters to be dealt with quickly, they also allow the court itself to get more business done than would otherwise be possible. Stipulations that are made orally in open court are also usually binding, which also allows for court proceedings to move more efficiently. However, a stipulation made in a judge’s chamber or outside of the court will often have to be in writing in order to avoid future disputes.
Stipulations save attorneys (and their clients) time
It’s not just the court itself that saves time with stipulations, so do attorneys and their clients. Stipulations allow attorneys to focus on what is actually being disputed in the case, rather than waste time over issues that all sides agree on. For example, both parties could agree on a statement of facts with a stipulation and submit that stipulation to the jury and judge. By agreeing on the facts before hand, attorneys can focus instead on how to interpret those facts. This approach not only saves time, it results in better representation for clients. In some cases, it could even lead to lower legal fees for clients, especially if they are paying their attorneys by the hour.
Stipulations introduce a dose of common sense and efficiency to court proceedings. By allowing attorneys to move quickly past issues that all parties agree on, cases are simplified, courts can proceed more efficiently, and clients enjoy better and more productive legal representation.