grandfather clause

noun
Updated on: 26 Jul 2017

Definition of grandfather clause

  1. :  a clause creating an exemption based on circumstances previously existing; especially :  a provision in several southern state constitutions designed to enfranchise poor whites and disenfranchise blacks by waiving high voting requirements for descendants of men voting before 1867

Examples of grandfather clause in a Sentence

  1. Because of a grandfather clause, the strict emission standards only apply to new cars.

First Known Use of grandfather clause

1899


Financial Definition of GRANDFATHER CLAUSE

grandfather clause

What It Is

A grandfather clause is a clause that is included as part of a new law that exempts specific parties from the law due to practices that were in place prior to the law's implementation.

How It Works

For example, consider a law that is passed stating that all buildings with three or more stories must be equipped with two elevators.  There may be buildings that were built before the passing of that law that are structurally unable to accommodate this law. Consequently, the law's grandfather clause might state that all such buildings completed before a certain year are exempt and require no alterations.

Why It Matters

When planning a new law, lawmakers often find that it is generally beneficial for certain entities and individuals to be exempt from the new law. This is often due to the fact that such parties have pre-existing conditions or practices concerning which the new law would prove to be unfair or cumbersome.  A grandfather clause is therefore a way to minimize the harmful effects of a new law by limiting its application in cases where it would do more harm than good.


GRANDFATHER CLAUSE Defined for English Language Learners

grandfather clause

noun

Definition of grandfather clause for English Language Learners

  • law : a part of a law which says that the law does not apply to certain people and things because of conditions that existed before the law was passed


Law Dictionary

grandfather clause

noun

Legal Definition of grandfather clause

  1. :  a clause creating an exemption (as from a law or regulation) based on circumstances previously existing; specifically :  a provision inserted in the constitutions of some southern states after the Civil War requiring high standards of literacy and substantial property qualifications of voters except for descendants of men voting before 1867


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