What Is a Grandfather Clause?

A grandfather clause, or legacy clause, is an exemption that allows persons or entities to continue with activities or operations that were approved before the implementation of new rules, regulations, or laws. Such allowances can be permanent, temporary, or instituted with limits.


  • A legacy clause is a provision that allows people or entities to follow old rules that once governed their activity instead of newly implemented ones, often for a limited time.
  • The “grandfather clause” term originated during the U.S. Civil War era and referred to statutes enacted in the South to suppress African American voting.
    Legacy clauses can be permanent, temporary, or instituted with limits.
  • Legacy clauses often apply to zoning laws when the purpose of a development changes.

An Example of a Grandfather Clause in Armenia.

The Law of Armenia on Foreign Investments. Article 7. “In the event of amendments to the foreign investment legislation of the Republic of Armenia, the legislation that was effective at the moment of implementation of investments shall be applied, upon the request of a foreign investor, during a five years period from that moment.”

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