A stipulation is an agreement between attorneys on opposite sides of a case, designed to shorten litigation or make the case simpler. Attorneys can stipulate to virtually any facts involved in the case, or to certain procedures that will be allowed. The idea behind a stipulation is that it will allow the case to skip past certain agreed-upon facts and move to the matters that are in dispute.
Some common stipulations include:
- Agreeing to use copies rather than original documents as evidence.
- Agreeing upon what a witness would have said if brought in, based on statements before trial, rather than taking the time to actually question them.
- Agreeing which evidence will or will not be used
- Agreeing which specific issues will be tried
Stipulations are completely voluntary. You and your lawyer cannot be ordered to stipulate to anything you do not agree with. If both sides agree, however, the stipulation can be documented and the court will enforce it. Courts often encourage stipulations because they make cases simpler.
Is a stipulation good or bad for my case?
In most cases stipulations are good for you. Because they shorten litigation, they also reduce the costs of your case. They can also help you move toward a conclusion faster, and potentially get your financial recovery as soon as possible. A good lawyer will not stipulate to anything that would weaken your case—only to issues not worth revisiting.
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