Potestative Condition

What does Potestative Condition mean?

The Definition

Potestative condition is a term that signifies that a contract is under complete control and power of only one of the parties, where the other party does not have a mutual agreement or say in the matter. Because this type of condition makes a contract completely one-sided, it is not enforceable legally since both sides do not agree together. The lack of mutuality between both parties makes this type of contract difficult to regulate or enforce in a court of law. In this type of condition, the contract will be fulfilled only if the obligated party agrees to fulfill it. 

Example of Potestative Condition

Bob Jones and Jim Smith both live on the same street. Their homes are directly across the street from each other. Directly behind Jim's house is a beautiful view of the downtown skyline, and Jim frequently enjoys this view from his back porch. However, Bob, who lives across the street, would only be able to see the skyline if Jim agrees to remove the oak tree that is blocking the downtown view. Bob knows that if he can simply get Jim to agree to remove the tree, Bob would also be able to see the view clearly, but from his front porch. Bob approached Jim and told him that he would pay him a lump sum of money if Jim would cut down the tree. This is a potestative condition, because Bob will not pay Jim if Jim does not cut down the tree. And, since this is not a legal contract or agreement, Jim is not required to cut down the tree if he does not want to. 

However, Jim agreed to cut down the oak tree, as it was a younger tree and not deeply rooted into the ground. Jim also has plenty of other trees on his property, so he did not see it as a problem to remove the one. Bob paid Jim the lump sum of money he promised him once the tree was cut down, and both men could now enjoy the downtown skyline view from their porch.

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