condition subsequent

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A condition subsequent is an event or state of affairs that, if it occurs, will terminate one party’s obligation to the other. A condition subsequent differs from the similar condition precedents because they take effect after a party has already assumed a duty or after an interest has already vested. These conditions are often found within the fields of contracts and property

In the field of contracts, conditions subsequent often provide methods for parties to escape their contractual duties if the terms of the contract become economically disadvantageous in the future. For example, a trash collection company may agree to collect the trash of a town for 5 years, so long as the total amount of trash does not annually increase by more than 5%. If the town’s trash grows by more than 5% any year over the course of the contract, the condition subsequent will take effect and the trash collection company will no longer have a duty to collect the town’s trash. 

In the field of property law, a condition subsequent is a condition which can divest the fee simple owner of their property through a right of entry. This right of entry allows a party to repossess the property from the grantee if the condition subsequent is met. For example, in a grant which gives the property Blackacre “to our son, but if he gets divorced, to our nephew” the son’s agreement not to divorce is a condition subsequent. At the time the grant is executed, Blackacre transfers to the son. If the son ever gets divorced, the nephew can, but is not required to, exercise their right of entry and seize ownership of Blackacre. 

[Last updated in July of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]