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Severability: Definition, Example and Related Terms

What is Severability ?

Severability is a term used in contract law that refers to the idea that a contract, or parts of it, can still be enforced even if other parts are considered illegal or unenforceable.

In simpler words, it's like saying if you have a basket of apples, and one is bad, it doesn't spoil all the other apples in the basket. The bad apple can be thrown away, and the rest can still be used. This is important in contract law because sometimes, parts of a contract might be found to be illegal or not acceptable, but that doesn't mean the whole contract is useless. The rest of it can still be used, and this is what is meant by 'severability'.

This concept can be very useful in contracts, as it helps to protect the validity of the rest of the contract even if a part of it is problematic.


  • Scenario Description
    Imagine a company called 'X Corp' signs a contract with another company named 'Y Corp' to provide marketing services. The contract contains a clause which states that X Corp will also spy on Y Corp's competitors which is illegal. In this case, if the spying clause is discovered and deemed illegal, the whole contract doesn't need to be thrown out. The illegal clause can be 'severed' or removed, and the rest of the contract (the marketing services) can still be enforced. This is an example of severability.
    Consider a fashion brand 'FashionCo' contracts with a supplier 'SupplierOne'. The contract might contain a clause demanding SupplierOne to use a particular hazardous chemical in the production process, which is against the law. If the clause demanding the use of a hazardous chemical is found out and deemed illegal, it can be severed from the contract, and the rest of the clauses regarding the rest of the supply agreement can still be enforced. This is severability in action.

Related terms