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Is free life membership status in a private club a binding agreement?

1 Answers. Asked on Mar 22nd, 2015 on Contracts - Connecticut
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I am on the Board of a Gun Club. It is an indoor range. It has been in existence since 1972. Our bylaws can be changed with a majority vote of the members.Our club bylaws have a classification of Life Members (25 years a member and 60 years of age) at which time such members would pay no dues or assessments. Can the bylaws be changed (with a majority vote) to add a "Life Members Fee"? Some are saying we can't do this because it affects members who joined while the prospect of free Life Membership was offered.
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Answered on Mar 23rd, 2015 at 8:44 AM

It's an interesting issue.  It's true that members who joined before the change could argue that they had joined in reliance on the provision, and that the change made their agreements voidable, either because of a failure of considertion, fraud, or some other theory.  Personally, I think the better argument is that anyone who joined knew that the rule could be changed by majority vote, and agreed to take that risk, just like coop or condo buyers who know that the homeowners' association rules can be changed during their membership.  However, it seems to me that you could avoid all conflicts, and also be fair to everybody, by "grandfathering" in current life members.

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Most people and business enter into contracts on almost a daily basis. Simply put, a contract is a legally binding agreement between two parties. One party makes an offer to do something in exchange for "consideration," or payment, and the other party accepts that offer. Contacts can be verbal, in writing or even implied. Some contracts--such as signed credit card receipts--are very simple. Others--such as those used to buy or sell real estate--are far more complicated. If you are entering into a complex transaction, it pays to hire a contract law attorney as early as possible in the process. Your lawyer can help negotiate the terms and conditions of the agreement, then draft the contract or review the contract that has been presented to you. Law firms with experience in contract law can also defend you if you or your company has been accused of breaching a contract, or if you need assistance enforcing a existing contract.
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