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Related to subscription: Subscription agreement


The act of writing one's name under a written instrument; the affixing of one's signature to any document, whether for the purpose of authenticating or attesting it, of adopting its terms as one's own expressions, or of binding one's self by an engagement which it contains. A written contract by which one engages to take and pay for capital stock of a corporation, or to contribute a sum of money for a designated purpose, either gratuitously, as in the case of subscribing to a charity, or in consideration of an equivalent to be rendered, as a subscription to a periodical, a forthcoming book, a series of entertainments, or the like.

Subscriptions, such as those made to charities, are also known as pledges and can be either oral or written.

State law determines the enforceability of oral and written subscriptions. Courts have regarded subscriptions that are not supported by some consideration as mere offers that become legally binding when accepted or when the recipient of the promise has acted in reliance on the offers. The promise that forms the subscription need not be to pay money but might be for the performance of other acts, such as to convey land or provide labor for construction.

A subscription contract does not have to be in a particular form, or even in writing, provided the promisor clearly indicates an intention to have such an agreement or contract. Where a state law mandates a writing, the subscriber's name can be signed to the contract by the individual who solicits the contribution for the organization, if that person is authorized to do so by the subscriber.

The offered subscription must be accepted if it is to legally bind the subscriber. It is essential that acceptance occur within a reasonable time, since, as an offer, the subscription can be revoked any time prior to its acceptance. A subscription is also revocable upon notice given by the subscriber if a condition upon which it is based has not been performed. A subscriber may be prevented from claiming revocation in situations where it would be contrary to the interests of justice.

Where the subscriber dies or becomes insane prior to an acceptance of the subscription or the furnishing of consideration for it, the subscription lapses and is legally ineffective.

Courts, as a matter of policy, uphold subscriptions if any consideration can be found. In a situation where the recipient of the subscription has begun work or incurred liability in reliance upon it, such action constitutes a consideration. A benefit to the subscriber, although it is enjoyed by her in common with others or with the general public, is also deemed sufficient consideration for the promise.

The discovery of any false representations made intentionally for the purpose of deceiving an individual making a charitable subscription justifies the cancellation of the subscription. The Fraud must bear a relation to the subject matter of the contract. If an individual is told that the subscription will go to finance the development of a recreation center for a student group when, in fact, it will be used to fund an arsenal for a group of political extremists, that individual is entitled to cancel the subscription. A subscription that has for its purpose the accomplishment of ends that are contrary to public policy is invalid.

In situations where the terms of a subscription are vague or ambiguous, the court will interpret its meaning. Factors for evaluation include the subject matter of the agreement, the inducement that influenced the subscription, the circumstances under which it was made, and its language. The contractual rights against a subscriber may be assigned, unless the terms of the subscription expressly proscribe this. Any conditions required by a subscription contract must be satisfied before the contract will be enforced. The conditions of a subscription may include the time of performance or the requirement of a program of matching corporate grants. Where a subscription indicates that any material change in the plan or purpose for which the subscription was made cannot be done without the consent of the subscriber, the subscriber will be released from the obligation if such a change is made without consent.

In the event that an enterprise is abandoned prior to the time that its purpose, which was the basis of the subscription, is accomplished, the courts will not ordinarily enforce the subscription against the subscriber. There is an implied condition at law that an enterprise cannot be abandoned but must be in existence when payment is demanded. In order to relieve the subscriber from his duties, however, it is essential that there be a complete Abandonment or frustration of the project. In cases where the project is partially completed, a cessation of work due to the shortage of funds precipitated by the failure of pledgors to pay the full amount of their pledges is not a complete abandonment relieving the subscriber from liability. This is also true when a project is temporarily suspended because of financial difficulties or because the purpose of the subscription is substantially accomplished, but the enterprise is subsequently stopped.

When the subscriber's liability has become fixed, based upon a fulfillment of all conditions, he must pay the subscription according to its terms. In cases where the promise is to pay as the work progresses, the work need not be completed before payment is due.

A subscription is a type of contract, and, therefore, the remedies for its breach are the same as those for breach of contract and include damages and Specific Performance.


noun acceptance, affirmation, approval, assent, authentication, certification, consent, endorsement, enrollment, ratification, registration, sanction, signature, validation
See also: advance, advocacy, aid, confirmation, consent, favor, grant, help, permission, sanction, vow


‘writing below’. This usually means a signature.

SUBSCRIPTION, contracts. The placing a signature at the bottom of a written or printed engagement; or it is the attestation of a witness by so writing his name; but it has been holden that the attestation of an illiterate witness, by making his mark, is a sufficient subscription. 7 Bing. 457; 2 Ves. 454; Atk. 177; 1 Yes. jr. 11; 3 P. Wms. 253; 1 V. & B. 362. Vide To sign.
     2. By subscription is also understood the act by which a person contracts, in writing, to furnish a sum of money for a particular purpose; as, a subscription to a charitable institution, a subscription for a book, for a newspaper, and the like.

References in classic literature ?
They threw themselves into committees in the most impassioned manner and collected subscriptions with a vehemence quite extraordinary.
No, my good sir, I not only don't subscribe myself, but I hope to be the means of nipping a good many subscriptions in the bud.
We know who is benevolent, by quite other means than the amount of subscription to soup-societies.
I adopted the tone used by my Uncle Henry, a clergyman, when he was asking one of his relatives for a subscription to the Additional Curates Society.
When the parson set about restoring his church and asked his brother for a subscription, he was surprised by receiving a couple of hundred pounds: Mr.
After the concert some of the passengers proposed that a subscription be raised to help the work at Tuskegee, and the money to support several scholarships was the result.
His hussar comrades- not only those of his own regiment, but the whole brigade- gave Rostov a dinner to which the subscription was fifteen rubles a head, and at which there were two bands and two choirs of singers.
Out came the sunset; but in spite of this heroic mutilation the editor of the Canadian Woman sent Averil's Atonement back so promptly that the indignant Diana declared that it couldn't have been read at all, and vowed she was going to stop her subscription immediately.
They only allow two votes for a subscription of five pounds.
There was also a postscript to the effect that though THE BILLOW carried no free-list, it took great pleasure in sending him a complimentary subscription for the ensuing year.
I meant "Alicia" when I said "hear, hear"--and when I officially produced my subscription list, it was all aglow with the roseate hues of the marriage-license.
The clergyman proposes to get a few influential names to begin with, and to start a subscription.