A release of liability is a form agreement whereby one party waives his legal right to bring a civil law suit against another for any damages he may sustain as a result of the wrongful conduct of the other party.
Since a release is a legal contract, to be binding it must satisfy the requirements for contract validity.
Requirements for Validity
A release will be valid as long as something of value is received in exchange for agreeing not to enforce a legal right against another party.
A release that is obtained due to fraud or misrepresentation by the party seeking the release is invalid and will not be enforced.
Settlement of Civil Suits
When a civil lawsuit is settled, it is common practice for the defendant, in consideration for making a cash payment to the plaintiff, to condition the settlement upon the plaintiff executing a release.
Release Precludes Further Litigation
The release precludes the plaintiff from ever filing suit against the defendant for the same cause of action in the future.