The latin phrase “beneficium ordinis seu excussion” is legal speak for the exception that a creditor must proceed against a principal debtor for payment before proceeding against a surety or subsidiary debtor.
Advocate to the Judge: “My Lord, there has been excussion against the principal debtor, who has no assets. The creditor is therefore proceeding against the surety.”
A phrase which you will often find in suretyship documents is: You as surety “waive the benefit of excussion” (“beneficium ordinis seu excussionis”). By waiving the benefit, you allow the creditor to demand full payment from you without first trying to recover from the principal debtor (the person or entity who actually incurred the debt). In other words, if the debtor defaults, the creditor will be able to institute legal action against the surety immediately.
In the Bible, Proverbs 6:1–7 warns, “If you’ve signed surety, my son, do this. Give no sleep to your eyelids, no slumber to your eyes, and deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, a bird from the hand of the fowler.”
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