What is an Conjunctive Obligation?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 06 April 2020
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A conjunctive obligation is obligation which is one of a group of obligations which all must be performed for someone to make good on a contract. These obligations can be separately performed by the person who takes them on and they can also be enforced independently of each other. When conjunctive obligations are structured into a contract, all of them must be delivered in order to satisfy the terms of the contract, unless an alternate arrangement is made.

In a simple example of a conjunctive obligation, Party A could agree to oil Party B's deck, wax Party B's car, and wash Party B's windows. These are three separate obligations which all must be rendered in order to satisfy the contract. If Party A only oiled the deck and washed the windows, Party B could enforce the contract to demand that the car be waxed because it is a conjunctive obligation. Because these obligations are linked, Party B could also move to enforce the contract and demand satisfaction of all terms if it became evident that Party A was not going to fulfill one of the obligations.


By contrast, if this contract was framed as a disjunctive obligation, Party A could agree to oil the deck, wax the car, or wash the windows. Fulfilling any one of these obligations would satisfy the contract because Party A is only required to perform one of the duties listed in the contract. Contracts can also be structured with alternative obligations, in which someone can opt to perform one or more of the obligations in a list; for example, Party A could wax the car and wash the windows, but not oil the deck.

It is important to pay attention to the language in a contract and to examine it carefully to make sure that the structure is understood. When someone takes on a conjunctive obligation, it means that several different duties will need to be performed to satisfy the contract. Failing to do so could result in suit. People should also consider ahead of time what might happen if they are unable to discharge conjunctive obligations, and they may want to ask about what kinds of arrangements can be made to satisfy a contract.

Sometimes the wording in a contract is contentious, and people have gone to suit over disputes about wording and whether or not something is a conjunctive obligation. If the wording in a contract is not clear, this should be corrected before the parties sign the contract so that there will be no confusion.


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