ROLE OF MINOR IN CONTRACTS

ROLE OF MINOR IN CONTRACTS

Who is a Minor?

A person who has not attained the age of majority i.e 18 years, except in case of a person of whose person or property, a guardian has been appointed by the Court in which the case the age of majority is 21 years.

Nature of Minor’s Agreement

One of the essentials so the contracts are that the parties should be competent to contract. Age is one of the factors which make parties competent. In the case of Mohri Bibee vs. Dharmodhas Ghose, it was held by the Privy Council that an agreement made by a minor is void.

Ratification of Minor’s Agreement

A minor’s agreement being void ab initio, it is incapable of being validated by subsequent ratification after the minor has attained the age of majority.

The consideration furnished in respect of a transaction during the majority cannot be considered to be a valid consideration for the subsequent promise after attaining majority and thus no ratification is possible of a promise made by a person during his minority.

If, however, a person has received a part of the benefit during minority and a part after attaining majority, a promise made on attaining majority to pay for both is enforceable.

Ratification of acts done on minor’s behalf

A minor cannot ratify an act done on his behalf. The doctrine of ratification is based on the date of doing the act, the authority to do that could have conferred on such a date. If on the date of doing the act, the person seeking to ratify was a minor, he was incapable of authorizing the act, and therefore, he cannot subsequently ratify the same.

No estoppel against a minor

The law of estoppel is that if you make a false stamen today and mislead another person, you are not allowed to deny the statement tomorrow when the question of liability is here. The law of estoppel does not apply against ta minor. Even if, while making the contract he misrepresented his age, he can still plead that at the time of making the contract, he was a minor.

Return of benefit secured by a fraudulent minor

English Law: The doctrine of restitution

According to English law, if a minor has obtained undue benefit in any transaction, he is required to restore back the benefit so received by him, under the equitable doctrine of restitution. It is applicable only to goods or property received by a minor and is not applicable to money.

Indian Law: Compensation by a Minor

A minor, who gets benefit under a contract is not bound to pay compensation under Section 64 and 65 of Indian Contract Act, as agreed by a minor, is void ab initio and these provisions do not corner agreements, which are void ab initio.

Section 33 of the Specific Relief Act, 1963 now provides for monetary compensation to be paid by a minor irrespective of the fact the minor is the plaintiff or the defendant.

What are Necessaries?

Necessaries d not mean bare necessities of life but mean such things as may be necessary to maintain a person according to his condition of life. What are necessaries may depend upon the status of a person and also his requirements at the time of actual delivery of goods.

Minor’s liability for Necessaries

Minor’s agreement being void ab initio, he cannot, therefore, as a general rule, be asked to pay for the services rendered or goods supplied to him.

Section 68 of the Indian Contract Act, however, permits reimbursements to a person, who supplies “necessaries” to a minor. Such duty is not there because of any valid contract with the minor but because the law recognizes this to be a ‘quasi-contractual’ obligation.

Section 68 permits reimbursements if-

  • Necessaries are supplied
  • To a person who is incapable of making a contract e.g. A minor or a lunatic
  • To a person who is dependent upon such person incapable of making a contract
  • For reimbursement, no personal action can lie against the minor, etc. but reimbursement is permitted from the property of such an incapable person.

Position of minor in Partnership

A partnership requires a contract. A minor being incompetent in a contract is incapable of becoming a partner. Section 30 of the Indian Partnership Act, states that although a minor may not be a partner in affirm, he may with the consent of all the partners, for the time being, be admitted to the benefits of a partnership.

Position of minor in case of Negotiable Instrument

Even though a minor is authorized to draw, endorse, deliver or negotiate a negotiable instrument, when he does so, that binds other parties, and the minor does not himself incur any liability on the negotiable instruments.

Position of minor in a contract of Agency

Since an agreement made by a minor is void, a minor cannot be a principal. He can, however, be an agent.  When a minor acts as an agent, his act binds his principal and the third party to each other. A minor is not liable towards his principal, because for such a liability a person has to be competent to contract.

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