- Understand the concept of conditions in a contract.
- Recognize that conditions can be classified on the basis of how they are created, their effect on the duty to perform, the essentialness of timely performance, or performance to someone’s satisfaction.
Usually contracts consist of an exchange of promises—a pledge or commitment by each party that somebody will or will not do something. Andy’s promise to cut Anne’s lawn “over the weekend” in return for Anne’s promise to pay twenty-five dollars is a commitment to have the lawn mowed by Sunday night or Monday morning. Andy’s promise “not to tell anyone what I saw you doing Saturday night” in return for Anne’s promise to pay one hundred dollars is a commitment that an event (the revealing of a secret) will not occur. These promises are known as independent or absolute or unconditional, because their performance does not depend on any outside event. Such promises, if contractually binding, create a present duty to perform (or a duty to perform at the time stated).
However, it is common that the obligation to perform a contract is conditioned (or conditional). A condition is an event the happening or nonhappening of which gives rise to a duty to perform (or discharges a duty to perform). Conditions may be express or implied; they may also be precedent, concurrent, subsequent, or to the satisfaction of a party.