Condition in Law

A condition in law is a future, unforeseeable event that will cause certain rights under a contract to be destroyed, created, or expanded upon. A condition can be either express or implied, meaning that it can be either written or verbal for an express condition or automatic for an implied condition, depending on the significance of the event.

What is an Express Condition?

An express condition is one that is specified in the terms and provisions of the contract. An example of this can be found in a credit card agreement with a consumer. If the consumer fails to pay the credit card on time every month, the credit card company might charge a specified interest percentage, thereby increasing the overall debt for the consumer.

What is an Implied Condition?

An implied condition is automatic if the particular transaction meets certain criteria. For example, if a couple leases an event hall for a birthday party, the ability to use the event space on the date they scheduled it is an implied condition. If, however, the event space suffers a fire before the scheduled birthday party, then use of that space is not possible, and therefore, the owner of the event hall cannot be held liable for the couple not being able to hold the party on that date.

What Can a Condition Do?

The condition itself could do a few things, including the following:

  1. Suspend any obligation under the contract
  2. Rescind the contract
  3. Modify the contract

The condition can potentially suspend any obligation to perform under the contract. Therefore, in the above example, if the event hall owner included an express warranty, it would have likely included a warranty suspending any obligation to perform if an unforeseen event occurs, i.e., fire.

The condition could also rescind the entire contract. An example of this could be if someone promises to sell his dog to you in one year. However, if the dog passed away before that date, then the entire contract would be rescinded.

The condition could modify the contract. An example of this could be if a farmer promises to sell you 100 lbs. of apples, but only if the crops can produce such an amount. If the farmer is unable to produce 100 lbs. of apples, and can only produce 75 lbs., the contract will automatically be modified to adjust to what the farmer could produce.

Types of Conditions

There are several types of conditions that both parties should be aware of, particularly if those conditions are implied. These conditions include:

  1. Copulative condition
  2. Disjunctive condition
  3. Consistent condition
  4. Repugnant condition

A copulative condition is one that indicates the entire condition must be met. Therefore, if the condition states that John will sell you his car on January 1 in exchange for $500 cash, and if you still want that car at that time, then you will only be required to pay John the money if you are in fact still interested in purchasing John’s car for that amount.

A disjunctive condition is one that provides one or two alternatives to the performance under the contract. Therefore, you can choose to either purchase John’s car for $500 cash or pay John $600 cash and ask that he change the color of the car to red before you purchase it from him.

A consistent condition is simply a condition that will further reiterate all other terms and provisions identified in the contract. An example of this would be a condition stating that no other conditions take precedent aside from the language in the contract. Therefore, on January 1, John will deliver his car in exchange for $500 cash.

A repugnant condition is the opposite of a consistent condition in that the repugnant condition includes language that is contrary to what is stated in the contract. Therefore, if the contract states that John will sell you his car for $500 cash on January 1, the condition will indicate that if any unforeseen circumstances occur, John will not sell you his car. Some examples of this could be if the car was destroyed by fire, flood, hurricane, tornado, or theft.

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