Surplusage Definition and Legal Meaning

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

What is Surplusage?

(n) Surplusage is used to qualify the documents, evidence etc which has no relevance or legal effect in the dispute under consideration and are to be discarded or ignored.

History and Meaning of Surplusage

Surplusage refers to the use of irrelevant or unnecessary words in legal documents, contracts, or evidence that do not have any legal effect or value in the dispute at hand. In other words, it is the unnecessary and redundant information presented in a legal proceeding that can confuse or mislead the court, which may lead to an inaccurate or unjust decision. The legal doctrine of surplusage is based on the principle of judicial economy, which aims to streamline legal proceedings by requiring parties to present only relevant and material evidence.

Examples of Surplusage

  1. In a contract dispute, a party may include irrelevant information about its financial history or unrelated business dealings that have no bearing on the terms of the contract in question. This information would be considered surplusage and ignored by the court.

  2. In a criminal case, a witness may provide testimony about an event that happened prior to the crime or is not directly related to the charges. This testimony may be categorized as surplusage and disregarded by the jury.

  3. In a patent dispute, a party may include unnecessary technical jargon or explanations that have no relevance to the claims being made. This information would be dismissed as surplusage.

Legal Terms Similar to Surplusage

  1. Objection: An objection is a formal protest raised during a legal proceeding, challenging the admissibility or relevance of evidence presented by opposing counsel.

  2. Relevance: Relevance refers to evidence that is material to the case at hand and can affect the outcome or decision of the court.

  3. Materiality: Materiality is a legal principle that requires evidence to be substantial and have relevance or importance to the issues being litigated.