Subscription, in law, a contract by which one agrees to contribute with others for a common purpose. The word is sometimes applied to the sum of money subscribed. The contract of subscription depends for its validity upon the same principles and facts as other contracts. The subscribers may be sued for their subscriptions whenever the conditions upon which they have promised to pay are fulfilled, if the purpose of the contract is legal and founded upon a good consideration, and if there is a party capable of maintaining the action. Subscription papers are often hastily drawn up and carelessly expressed, and the, difficulty in the way of enforcing contracts of subscription has arisen chietly from the want of proper parties and of a valid consideration for the promise. In their disposition to uphold this class of contracts, if they can be upheld consistently with the rules of law, the courts have gone in some cases so far as to say that the subscribers to a common object may be treated as contracting with each other, the consideration of each subscription being the promises of the other contributors, each subscriber being thus liable to a suit by all the others.
There seems to be some difficulty in sustaining this view, and to avoid it subscriptions are usually made payable to some corporation or person who is to act as treasurer for the purpose of collection, and perhaps also in expending the moneys. Such undertakings, made on behalf of educational and charitable institutions or other public objects, or even for public celebrations, have frequently been sustained and enforced, and there seems to be no sufficient reason against such action. If by the subscription paper the promisee expressly undertakes to apply the moneys to the object in view, the case is clear; and certainly, if in any other case the subscription be accepted and acted upon by the expenditure of moneys or otherwise before notice that subscriptions are withdrawn, it should bo hold that this constitutes a consideration sufficient to support the promises, and that they cannot be withdrawn subsequently, but may be enforced. And such seems to bo the tendency of decisions.