Grandfather Clause


A contract clause in a legal document granting a formal exemption to a rule or law based on previously existing conditions or circumstances.


A World Trade Organization (WTO) provision that allows the original contracting parties to exempt from general WTO obligations mandatory domestic legislation which is inconsistent with WTO provisions, but which existed before the WTO/GATT was signed. Newer members may also “grandfather” domestic legislation if that is agreed to in negotiating the terms of accession.

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