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Jointly and Severally: Definition, Example and Related Terms

What is Jointly and Severally ?

The term 'Jointly and Severally' is often used in business contracts. When we say 'jointly', it means two or more people are together responsible for something. On the other hand, 'severally' means each person is individually responsible. So, when we say 'jointly and severally', it means that each person among a group is individually responsible, but they are all also responsible together. It's like a team in a game. If the team loses, each player is responsible, but the whole team is responsible too. So, if one person can't fulfill their part, others have to step in and cover for them. This term is often used in contracts to ensure that the obligations of the contract are met, even if one party fails to meet their responsibilities.


  • Scenario Description
    Suppose a business enters into a contract with three suppliers to provide materials. The contract states that they are 'jointly and severally' responsible for supplying the materials. In this situation, each supplier is responsible for delivering their share of materials. If one supplier fails to deliver, the other two are responsible for covering that supplier's share. They are responsible together (jointly) and alone (severally). So, the business is assured of getting the materials, as the suppliers cannot simply say that it was not their turn or duty.
    A company takes a loan from a bank, with the company's three owners signing the loan agreement 'jointly and severally'. This means that all three owners are responsible for paying back the loan. If one owner fails to contribute their share, the other two will have to cover it. They are responsible jointly as a group and severally as individuals. So, the bank is assured of getting its money back, regardless of the financial situation of each individual owner.