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In a legal context, to cancel is to render something otherwise valid as void or no longer in effect. For example, a person might write a check and then destroy it or write “void” across its face; both would successfully eliminate the check’s ability to serve as legal tender. A person might also cancel an otherwise binding contract. While a person would ordinarily have to perform whatever service or action laid out in the terms of the contract, successful cancellations would free the person from this responsibility. Generally, contract cancellations must be preceded by a breach by the other party or by a mutual agreement between the two parties. This is also called rescission or termination.

[Last updated in June of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]