Contract, infant’s

Updated: Aug 20, 2021

Generally speaking, an infant, that is, a person under eighteen, cannot make contracts enforceable against him, except contracts for necessaries (‘goods suitable to the infant’s condition in life and to his actual requirements at the time of sale or delivery’), or beneficial contracts of service (e.g. contracts for apprenticeship). In addition, the Infant’s Relief Act 1874 provides that aU contracts made by an infant (1) for repayment of money lent or to be lent, (2) for goods, other than necessaries supplied or t( be supplied, (3) on an account stated, are absolutely void. Although an infant cannot be sued on contracts generally, he will find it difficult to bring an action himself where he has obtained some benefit. Generally speaking, an infant cannot ratify on coming of age a contract made in infancy; there must be a new contract. There may be an exception where the contract is a continuing business contract (e.g. a partnership) which the infant does not repudiate within a reasonable time of coming of age. If he continues to act as a party to the contract he may be held liable on it, but only for the period since his coming of age. A person legally comes of age on the day; before his eighteenth birthday.

Reference: The Penguin Business Dictionary, 3rd edt.

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