Diligence Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Diligence, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Diligence?

n. A fair attempt, or reasonable care or attention to a matter which is good enough to avoid a negligence claim. For example: due diligence in a process server’s attempt to locate someone.

History and Meaning of Diligence

Diligence is a term that originated from the Old French word "diligentia" and Latin word "diligentia," both meaning "careful attention" or "painstaking effort." In the legal context, diligence refers to a reasonable and conscientious level of care, effort, and attention that one should undertake when dealing with certain matters or situations to avoid any claims of negligence. It can be applied in various legal contexts, such as due diligence in business transactions, legal due diligence in mergers and acquisitions, or the diligence required in fulfilling contractual obligations.

Examples of Diligence

Some examples of diligence include:

  • A buyer conducting due diligence on a property before the purchase, to assess any potential risks or issues that may impact the value or suitability of the property.
  • A contractor performing diligence in selecting and supervising subcontractors to ensure compliance with relevant laws and regulations.
  • An attorney undertaking legal due diligence before a merger and acquisition deal to determine the legal risks and liabilities of the target company.
  • An individual performing diligence in fulfilling contractual obligations by meeting deadlines and delivering work that meets the required quality standards.
  • A trustee executing duties with diligence in managing funds or assets entrusted to them, such as ensuring compliance with relevant laws and regulations, keeping accurate records, and making prudent financial decisions.

Legal Terms Similar to Diligence

Some legal terms that are similar to diligence include duty of care, reasonable care, care and attention, prudence, and conscientiousness. These terms are all related to the idea of taking appropriate care and attention to avoid harm to others or to ensure compliance with relevant obligations.