Define: Introductory Recital

Introductory Recital
Introductory Recital
Quick Summary of Introductory Recital

A special type of speech or statement known as an introductory recital is used to explain the reasons behind a happening or change. It is commonly used in contracts or deeds to highlight important facts or reasons for entering into an agreement. Often beginning with the word “whereas,” there are various types of recitals, such as narrative recitals that tell a story and particular recitals that state a fact clearly. Essentially, it is like telling a story to help others understand the rationale behind a particular event.

What is the dictionary definition of Introductory Recital?
Dictionary Definition of Introductory Recital

An introductory recital serves as a means to provide context and background information before the start of a performance or agreement. It can be found in various settings, such as contracts or musical performances. In a contract, an introductory recital may outline the reasons for entering into the agreement or provide background information on the transaction. Similarly, in a musical performance, the performer may give an introductory recital to explain the pieces they will be playing and offer insights into the composers or the music. Ultimately, an introductory recital aims to explain how and why the existing state of affairs will be changed and to highlight relevant facts or information.

Full Definition Of Introductory Recital

Introductory recitals, often referred to as “whereas clauses” or “preambles,” are a fundamental part of many legal documents. These sections serve as the prelude to the operative provisions, offering context, background, and a preliminary understanding of the agreement or document at hand. This comprehensive overview aims to elucidate the nature, purpose, and drafting considerations of introductory recitals, focusing on their role within British legal practice.

Definition and Purpose

Introductory recitals are statements found at the beginning of legal documents that set the stage for the main provisions. Their primary purpose is to provide background information and context, helping to clarify the intent and scope of the document. They are not usually enforceable on their own but are crucial in interpreting the document’s operative clauses.

Functions of Introductory Recitals:

  • Contextualisation: They place the agreement in context, explaining the circumstances leading to its creation.
  • Clarification: They clarify the intentions of the parties involved.
  • Foundation: They lay the groundwork for the contractual terms that follow.
  • Interpretation Aid: They assist in the interpretation of the document, especially in the event of disputes.

In British legal documents, introductory recitals are often used to outline the relationship between the parties, the purpose of the agreement, and relevant historical facts.

Historical Context

The use of recitals dates back to medieval legal practices. Historically, they were more verbose and elaborate, often reflecting the formal and ceremonious style of legal drafting of the time. Over the centuries, legal drafting has evolved towards brevity and precision, but recitals have retained their significance due to their role in elucidating the context and intentions behind legal agreements.

Evolution of Recitals:

  • Medieval Period: Extensive and formal, with detailed historical narratives.
  • Modern Era: Concise and focused on essential background information.

Despite changes in style, the fundamental purpose of recitals has remained consistent: to provide a clear and concise introduction to the operative parts of a legal document.

Structure of Introductory Recitals

Introductory recitals typically follow a structured format, which helps to systematically present the necessary background information. The common elements include:

Common Structural Elements:

  • Title: Often marked as “Recitals” or “Whereas Clauses.”
  • Preamble: A brief introductory statement.
  • Individual Recitals: Sequential statements, each beginning with “Whereas.”

Example Structure:

  1. Preamble: “This Agreement is made on [Date] between [Party A] and [Party B].”
  2. Recital 1: “Whereas, Party A is engaged in [Description of Business/Activity];”
  3. Recital 2: “Whereas, Party B is seeking to [Purpose of the Agreement];”
  4. Recital 3: “Whereas, both parties desire to [General Intent];”

Each recital serves to incrementally build a complete picture of the context and intentions behind the document.

Importance in Legal Documents

Introductory recitals play a crucial role in various types of legal documents, including contracts, treaties, and legislative texts. Their importance can be summarised as follows:


  • Contextual Clarity: Providing a clear background to the document.
  • Legal Interpretation: Serving as a tool for interpretation in the event of ambiguity.
  • Intent Expression: Explicitly stating the intentions and objectives of the parties involved.
  • Historical Record: Recording the context and reasons for the agreement for future reference.

In British legal practice, recitals are particularly valued for their role in mitigating disputes by clarifying the background and purpose of the agreement.

Common Elements

While the specific content of recitals can vary widely depending on the nature of the document, several common elements are typically included:

Common Elements:

  • Parties: Identification of the parties involved.
  • Background: Description of the historical or factual background.
  • Purpose: Explanation of the purpose of the agreement.
  • Intentions: Statements of the parties’ intentions and objectives.
  • Definitions: Clarification of terms and definitions, if necessary.

Example Elements in a Contract:

  1. Parties: “This Agreement is made between ABC Ltd. and XYZ Ltd.”
  2. Background: “Whereas, ABC Ltd. is a leading provider of software solutions;”
  3. Purpose: “Whereas, XYZ Ltd. seeks to license certain software from ABC Ltd.;”
  4. Intentions: “Whereas, both parties intend to establish a long-term collaboration;”

These elements ensure that the reader has a comprehensive understanding of the context and purpose of the document.

Drafting Considerations

Drafting effective introductory recitals requires careful consideration to ensure clarity, accuracy, and relevance. Key drafting considerations include:

Key Considerations:

  • Clarity: Ensuring the language is clear and unambiguous.
  • Relevance: Including only information directly relevant to the agreement.
  • Accuracy: Ensuring all factual statements are accurate and verifiable.
  • Conciseness: Keeping recitals concise to avoid unnecessary verbosity.
  • Consistency: Ensuring consistency with the operative provisions of the document.

Drafting Tips:

  • Avoid Legalese: Use plain language to ensure understandability.
  • Focus on Key Facts: Include only the most relevant facts and background information.
  • Align with Operative Clauses: Ensure recitals align with and support the operative clauses.

By adhering to these considerations, drafters can create recitals that effectively support the main body of the document.

Examples and Analysis

Example 1: Commercial Contract


  • “This Agreement is made on [Date] between ABC Ltd. (‘Seller’) and XYZ Ltd. (‘Buyer’).”
  • “Whereas, the Seller is in the business of manufacturing and selling widgets;”
  • “Whereas, the Buyer desires to purchase widgets from the Seller under the terms set forth herein;”


  • Context: The recitals provide a clear context for the commercial relationship.
  • Purpose: They state the purpose of the agreement – the sale and purchase of widgets.
  • Clarity: The language is clear and concise.

Example 2: Partnership Agreement


  • “This Partnership Agreement is made on [Date] between Jane Doe and John Smith.”
  • “Whereas, Jane Doe has experience in digital marketing;”
  • “Whereas, John Smith has expertise in web development;”
  • “Whereas, the parties wish to combine their skills to offer comprehensive digital solutions;”


  • Background: The recitals outline the parties’ respective expertise.
  • Intentions: They state the intention to form a partnership.
  • Relevance: The information provided is directly relevant to the partnership.

By analysing these examples, one can see how well-crafted recitals contribute to a clear and comprehensive understanding of the agreements.


Introductory recitals are a vital component of legal documents, serving to provide essential background information and context. They play a crucial role in clarifying the intentions of the parties involved and assisting in the interpretation of the document’s operative provisions. Effective drafting of recitals requires clarity, relevance, accuracy, conciseness, and consistency.

By understanding and utilizing introductory recitals effectively, legal practitioners can enhance the clarity and enforceability of legal documents, thereby reducing the risk of disputes and misunderstandings. In British legal practice, the careful crafting of recitals is an established and invaluable practice that underpins the integrity and coherence of legal agreements.

Introductory Recital FAQ'S

An introductory recital is a statement at the beginning of a legal document that provides background information and sets the context for the rest of the document.

No, an introductory recital is not typically legally binding. It is more of an introductory statement that provides context for the legal document.

An introductory recital should include relevant background information, the purpose of the document, and any key facts or events that led to the creation of the document.

While an introductory recital can provide background information, it is not typically used to establish facts or make legal arguments. Those should be addressed in the main body of the legal document.

No, an introductory recital is not always required. It depends on the type of document and the specific legal requirements for that document.

Yes, an introductory recital can be used to clarify the intent of the parties involved by providing context and background information.

In some cases, an introductory recital can be amended or modified after the legal document is executed, but it may require the agreement of all parties involved.

An introductory recital and a preamble serve similar purposes in providing background information, but they may be used in different types of legal documents or in different jurisdictions.

An introductory recital is not typically used to waive rights or obligations. Any waivers or releases should be clearly stated in the main body of the legal document.

It is advisable to have an introductory recital drafted by a legal professional to ensure that it accurately and effectively sets the context for the legal document.

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This site contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation. Persuing this glossary does not create an attorney-client or legal adviser relationship. If you have specific questions, please consult a qualified attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

This glossary post was last updated: 6th June 2024.

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