Legal Dictionary

condition precedent

Legal Definition of condition precedent


  1. A contractual condition that suspends the coming into effect of a contract unless or until a certain event takes place. Many residential real estate contracts have a condition precedent which states that the contract is not binding until and unless the property is subjected to an professional inspection, the results of which are satisfactory to the purchaser.

Compare with

Definition of condition precedent


condition precedent

  1. (law) a condition imposed on an agreement that must be satisfied before property is transferred between parties.

Further reading

Condition precedent refers to an event or state of affairs that is required before something else will occur. In contract law a condition precedent is an event which must occur, unless its non-occurrence is excused, before performance under a contract becomes due, i.e., before any contractual duty arises.[1]

For instance, in the sentence "Jack will only go to heaven after he has died," the death of Jack is a condition precedent to Jack going to heaven (although it is also possible in this example for the occurrence of other conditions precedent to be needed before Jack goes to heaven: it is not stated that Jack will necessarily go to heaven if he dies).

In estate and trust law, it is a provision in a will or trust that prevents the vesting of a gift or bequest until something occurs or fails to occur, e.g. the attainment of a certain age or the predecease of another person.

For comparison, a condition subsequent brings a duty to an end whereas a condition precedent initiates a duty.


  • Poussard v Spiers and Pond (1876) 1 QBD 410

See also


  1. Restatement (Second) of Contracts 224


  1. Wiktionary. Published under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.


1.     scienter
2.     quorum
3.     AORO
4.     adjudication order
5.     appellant
6.     lex patriae
7.     Miranda warning
8.     lex causae
9.     lex domicilii
10.     lex situs