What Does ‘Notwithstanding’ Mean in a Legal Document?

Understanding legal terminology is crucial to fully comprehend legal documents. One such term commonly appearing is ‘notwithstanding’. Though appearing complex, the meaning can be distilled to more straightforward terms, aiding understanding.

Notwithstanding: Overall Meaning

The term ‘notwithstanding’ mirrors more common words such as ‘despite’ or ‘regardless’. When deployed in legal documents, it indicates that a specific provision or clause takes precedence over another, even if the latter appears contradictory.

An everyday usage example could be: “Notwithstanding the rain, the picnic will be held in the park.” It means that despite the rain, the picnic will happen in the park as planned.

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Usage in Legal Documents

In legal documents, ‘notwithstanding’ is employed to signal exceptions or instances where a rule can be bypassed. It functions as a gate in the boundaries (rules), allowing certain actions or obligations to overstep these established restrictions:

  • Notwithstanding any other clause in this agreement, Party A shall be responsible for all costs incurred during the execution of the project.”

The sentence hints that Party A bears all costs, even if other provisions in the contract state otherwise.

Examples of Notwithstanding Clauses

In the legal world, ‘notwithstanding’ is employed in various situations:

  • Contract Clauses: “Notwithstanding any other provision in this agreement, the client may terminate the contract with 30 days’ notice.”
  • Company Policies: “Employees are required to adhere to the dress code, notwithstanding casual Fridays when relaxed attire is permitted.”
  • Legal Rights: “Notwithstanding the rights granted herein, the licensor reserves all rights not expressly granted to the licensee.”
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Considerations and Confusions

One area causing confusion is the relationship of ‘notwithstanding’ with other contradicting provisions. The term implicitly states that the rule it introduces overrides any other contradicting rules, regardless of their position within the contract.

Therefore, understanding ‘notwithstanding’ is crucial to avoid misunderstandings and unintended breaching of contractual obligations.

Similarly, the term ‘notwithstanding’ may be confused with ‘subject to’. Both function similarly, establishing provision priorities, with ‘notwithstanding’ typically found in the prevailing clause, while ‘subject to’ appears in a superseded clause.


Decoding legal jargon like ‘notwithstanding’ can appear challenging, but with some explanation, they become more manageable. Remember, ‘notwithstanding’ means ‘despite’ or ‘regardless’ and typically signals an exception to a rule in a legal document. As anyone dives deeper into the world of legal documents, understanding terms like these becomes crucial.

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