Definition of covenant
From Middle English < Old French covenant ("agreement") < Latin conveniens ("agreeing, agreeable, suitable, convenient"), ppr. of convenire ("to agree").
covenant (plural covenants)
- (law) An agreement to do or not do a particular thing.
- (law) A promise, incidental to a deed or contract, either express or implied.
- A pact or binding agreement between two or more parties.
- An incidental clause in an agreement.
- (Biblical) God's promise to humanity after the Flood, symbolised by the rainbow.
- (Biblical) God's promise to Israel in both the Old Testament and the New Testament that He would redeem the nation of Israel, give Israel the land of Zion, and "appear in his glory" and "come out of Zion" when "all Israel shall be saved" (compare Psalm 201:15-18, Romans 11:25-27).
- (Biblical) God's general promise of salvation to the faithful as taught in the Bible.
to covenant (third-person singular simple present covenants, present participle covenanting, simple past and past participle covenanted)
- to enter into, or promise something by, a covenant
- (law) To enter a formal agreement.
- (law) To bind oneself in contract.
- (law) To make a stipulation.
A covenant, in its most general sense, is a solemn promise to engage in or refrain from a specified action.
A covenant is a type of contract in which the covenantor makes a promise to a covenantee to do or not do some action. In real property law, the term real covenants is used for conditions tied to the use of land. A "covenant running with the land", also called a covenant appurtenant, imposes duties or restrictions upon the use of that land regardless of the owner. In contrast, the covenant in gross imposes duties or restrictions on a particular owner.
Covenants for title are covenants which come with a deed or title to the property, in which the grantor of the title makes certain guarantees to the grantee.
In a legal context
Under the common law a covenant was distinguished from an ordinary contract by the presence of a seal. Because the presence of a seal indicated an unusual solemnity in the promises made in a covenant, the common law would enforce a covenant even in the absence of consideration. A Covenant is also used to describe a contract or a legally binding promise.
Title covenants serve as guarantees to the recipient of property, ensuring that the recipient receives what he or she bargained for. The English covenants of title, sometimes included in deeds to real property, are (1) that the grantor is lawfully seized (in fee simple) of the property, (2) that the grantor has the right to convey the property to the grantee, (3) that the property is conveyed without encumbrances (this covenant is frequently modified to allow for certain encumbrances), (4) that the grantor has done no act to encumber the property, (5) that the grantee shall have quiet possession of the property, and (6) that the grantor will execute such further assurances of the land as may be requisite (Nos. 3 and 4, which overlap significantly, are sometimes treated as one item). The English covenants may be described individually, or they may be incorporated by reference, as in a deed granting property "with general warranty and English covenants of title..."
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