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Copyright © 2004 by Prentice-Hall. All rights reserved. PowerPoint Slides to Accompany BUSINESS LAW E-Commerce and Digital Law International Law and Ethics.

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Presentation on theme: "Copyright © 2004 by Prentice-Hall. All rights reserved. PowerPoint Slides to Accompany BUSINESS LAW E-Commerce and Digital Law International Law and Ethics."— Presentation transcript:

1 Copyright © 2004 by Prentice-Hall. All rights reserved. PowerPoint Slides to Accompany BUSINESS LAW E-Commerce and Digital Law International Law and Ethics 5 th Edition by Henry R. Cheeseman Slides developed by Les Wiletzky Wiletzky and Associates, Puyallup, WA Chapter 12 Capacity and Legality Chapter 12 Capacity and Legality

2 12 - 2Copyright © 2004 by Prentice-Hall. All rights reserved. Capacity The law presumes that the parties to a contract have the requisite contractual capacity to enter into the contract. The law presumes that the parties to a contract have the requisite contractual capacity to enter into the contract. Certain persons do not have this capacity: Certain persons do not have this capacity: Minors Minors Insane persons Insane persons Intoxicated persons Intoxicated persons

3 12 - 3Copyright © 2004 by Prentice-Hall. All rights reserved. Capacity (continued) The common law of contracts and many state statutes protect persons who lack contractual capacity from having contracts forced on them. The common law of contracts and many state statutes protect persons who lack contractual capacity from having contracts forced on them. The person asserting incapacity bears the burden of proof. The person asserting incapacity bears the burden of proof.

4 12 - 4Copyright © 2004 by Prentice-Hall. All rights reserved. Minors Common law defines minors as: Common law defines minors as: Females under the age of 18; and Females under the age of 18; and Males under the age of 21 Males under the age of 21 Many states have enacted statutes that specify the age of majority. Many states have enacted statutes that specify the age of majority. The most prevalent age of majority is 18 years of age for both males and females. The most prevalent age of majority is 18 years of age for both males and females.

5 12 - 5Copyright © 2004 by Prentice-Hall. All rights reserved. Minors (continued) Any age below the statutory age of majority is called the period of minority. Any age below the statutory age of majority is called the period of minority. Thus, a minor is: Thus, a minor is: A person who has not reached the age of majority. A person who has not reached the age of majority.

6 12 - 6Copyright © 2004 by Prentice-Hall. All rights reserved. KEY ISSUES RELATING TO MINORS AND CONTRACTS KEY ISSUES RELATING TO MINORS AND CONTRACTS The Infancy Doctrine Ratification Parents Liability for Their Childrens Contracts Necessaries of Life

7 12 - 7Copyright © 2004 by Prentice-Hall. All rights reserved. The Infancy Doctrine A doctrine that allows minors to disaffirm (or cancel) most contracts they have entered into with adults. A doctrine that allows minors to disaffirm (or cancel) most contracts they have entered into with adults. Doctrine based on public policy that reasons that minors should be protected from unscrupulous behavior of adults. Doctrine based on public policy that reasons that minors should be protected from unscrupulous behavior of adults.

8 12 - 8Copyright © 2004 by Prentice-Hall. All rights reserved. The Infancy Doctrine (continued) Disaffirmance – the act of a minor to rescind a contract under the infancy doctrine. Disaffirmance – the act of a minor to rescind a contract under the infancy doctrine. Disaffirmance may be done orally, in writing, or by the minors conduct. Disaffirmance may be done orally, in writing, or by the minors conduct. Competent Partys Duty of Restitution – if the minor has transferred consideration to the competent party before disaffirming the contract, that party must place the minor in status quo. Competent Partys Duty of Restitution – if the minor has transferred consideration to the competent party before disaffirming the contract, that party must place the minor in status quo.

9 12 - 9Copyright © 2004 by Prentice-Hall. All rights reserved. The Infancy Doctrine (continued) Minors Duty of Restoration – a minor is obligated only to return the goods or property he or she has received from the adult in the condition it is in at the time of disaffirmance. Minors Duty of Restoration – a minor is obligated only to return the goods or property he or she has received from the adult in the condition it is in at the time of disaffirmance.

10 Copyright © 2004 by Prentice-Hall. All rights reserved. The Infancy Doctrine (continued) Minors Duty of Restitution – most states provide that the minor must put the adult in status quo upon disaffirmance of the contract if the minors intentional or grossly negligent conduct caused the loss of value to the adults property. Minors Duty of Restitution – most states provide that the minor must put the adult in status quo upon disaffirmance of the contract if the minors intentional or grossly negligent conduct caused the loss of value to the adults property.

11 Copyright © 2004 by Prentice-Hall. All rights reserved. The Infancy Doctrine (continued) Misrepresentation of Age Misrepresentation of Age Minors who misrepresent their age must place the adult in status quo if they disaffirm the contract. Minors who misrepresent their age must place the adult in status quo if they disaffirm the contract. A minor who has misrepresented his or her age when entering into a contract owes the duties of restoration and restitution when disaffirming it. A minor who has misrepresented his or her age when entering into a contract owes the duties of restoration and restitution when disaffirming it.

12 Copyright © 2004 by Prentice-Hall. All rights reserved. Ratification If a minor does not disaffirm a contract either during the period of minority or within a reasonable time after reaching the age of majority: If a minor does not disaffirm a contract either during the period of minority or within a reasonable time after reaching the age of majority: The contract is considered ratified (accepted). The contract is considered ratified (accepted). The minor (now an adult) is bound by the contract. The minor (now an adult) is bound by the contract. The right to disaffirm the contract has been lost. The right to disaffirm the contract has been lost.

13 Copyright © 2004 by Prentice-Hall. All rights reserved. Necessaries of Life Minors are obligated to pay for the necessaries of life: Minors are obligated to pay for the necessaries of life: Food, Shelter, Clothing, Medical Services Food, Shelter, Clothing, Medical Services The sellers recovery is based on the equitable doctrine of quasi-contract rather than on the contract itself. The sellers recovery is based on the equitable doctrine of quasi-contract rather than on the contract itself. The minor is obligated only to pay the reasonable value of the goods or services. The minor is obligated only to pay the reasonable value of the goods or services.

14 Copyright © 2004 by Prentice-Hall. All rights reserved. Parents Liability for Their Childrens Contracts Parents owe a legal duty to provide food, clothing, shelter, and other necessaries of life for their minor children. Parents owe a legal duty to provide food, clothing, shelter, and other necessaries of life for their minor children. Parents are liable for their childrens contracts for necessaries of life if they have not adequately provided such items. Parents are liable for their childrens contracts for necessaries of life if they have not adequately provided such items. The parental duty of support terminates if a minor becomes emancipated. The parental duty of support terminates if a minor becomes emancipated.

15 Copyright © 2004 by Prentice-Hall. All rights reserved. Mentally Incompetent Persons The law protects people suffering from substantial mental incapacity from enforcement of contracts against them. The law protects people suffering from substantial mental incapacity from enforcement of contracts against them. To be relieved of his or her duties under a contract, the law requires a person to have been legally insane at the time of entering into the contract. To be relieved of his or her duties under a contract, the law requires a person to have been legally insane at the time of entering into the contract.

16 Copyright © 2004 by Prentice-Hall. All rights reserved. Mentally Incompetent Persons (continued) Legal Insanity – a state of contractual incapacity as determined by law. Legal Insanity – a state of contractual incapacity as determined by law. The law has developed two standards concerning contracts of mentally incompetent persons: The law has developed two standards concerning contracts of mentally incompetent persons: 1. Adjudged Insane 2. Insane, But Not Adjudged Insane

17 Copyright © 2004 by Prentice-Hall. All rights reserved. Mentally Incompetent Persons (continued) Adjudged Insane Adjudged Insane A person who has been adjudged insane by a proper court or administrative agency. A person who has been adjudged insane by a proper court or administrative agency. A contract entered into by such a person is void. A contract entered into by such a person is void. Neither party can enforce the contract. Neither party can enforce the contract.

18 Copyright © 2004 by Prentice-Hall. All rights reserved. Mentally Incompetent Persons (continued) Insane, But Not Adjudged Insane Insane, But Not Adjudged Insane A person who is insane but has not been adjudged insane by a court or administrative agency. A person who is insane but has not been adjudged insane by a court or administrative agency. A contract entered into by such a person is generally voidable. A contract entered into by such a person is generally voidable. The competent party cannot void the contract. The competent party cannot void the contract.

19 Copyright © 2004 by Prentice-Hall. All rights reserved. Intoxicated Person A person who is under contractual incapacity because of ingestion of alcohol or drugs to the point of incompetence. A person who is under contractual incapacity because of ingestion of alcohol or drugs to the point of incompetence. Most states provide that contracts entered into by such intoxicated persons are voidable by that person. Most states provide that contracts entered into by such intoxicated persons are voidable by that person. The contract is not voidable by the other party if that party had contractual capacity. The contract is not voidable by the other party if that party had contractual capacity.

20 Copyright © 2004 by Prentice-Hall. All rights reserved. Illegality One requirement to have an enforceable contract is that the object of the contract must be lawful. One requirement to have an enforceable contract is that the object of the contract must be lawful. Contracts with an illegal object are void and therefore unenforceable. Contracts with an illegal object are void and therefore unenforceable. There are two key categories of illegality: There are two key categories of illegality: Contracts contrary to statutes Contracts contrary to statutes Contracts contrary to public policy Contracts contrary to public policy

21 Copyright © 2004 by Prentice-Hall. All rights reserved. Contracts Contrary to Statutes Federal and state legislatures have enacted statutes that prohibit certain types of conduct. Federal and state legislatures have enacted statutes that prohibit certain types of conduct. Contracts to perform an activity that is prohibited by statute are illegal contracts. Contracts to perform an activity that is prohibited by statute are illegal contracts. Federal and state legislatures have enacted statutes that prohibit certain types of conduct. Federal and state legislatures have enacted statutes that prohibit certain types of conduct. Contracts to perform an activity that is prohibited by statute are illegal contracts. Contracts to perform an activity that is prohibited by statute are illegal contracts. Usury Laws Usury Laws Gambling Statutes Gambling Statutes Sabbath Laws Sabbath Laws Licensing Statutes Licensing Statutes Regulatory Statute Regulatory Statute Revenue-Raising Statute Revenue-Raising Statute Usury Laws Usury Laws Gambling Statutes Gambling Statutes Sabbath Laws Sabbath Laws Licensing Statutes Licensing Statutes Regulatory Statute Regulatory Statute Revenue-Raising Statute Revenue-Raising Statute

22 Copyright © 2004 by Prentice-Hall. All rights reserved. Contracts Contrary to Public Policy Contracts that have a negative impact on society or that interfere with the publics safety and welfare. Contracts that have a negative impact on society or that interfere with the publics safety and welfare. Such contracts are void. Such contracts are void. Contracts that have a negative impact on society or that interfere with the publics safety and welfare. Contracts that have a negative impact on society or that interfere with the publics safety and welfare. Such contracts are void. Such contracts are void. Immoral Contracts Immoral Contracts Contracts in Restraint of Trade Contracts in Restraint of Trade Exculpatory Clauses Exculpatory Clauses Immoral Contracts Immoral Contracts Contracts in Restraint of Trade Contracts in Restraint of Trade Exculpatory Clauses Exculpatory Clauses

23 Copyright © 2004 by Prentice-Hall. All rights reserved. Effect of Illegality Since illegal contracts are void, the parties cannot sue for nonperformance. Since illegal contracts are void, the parties cannot sue for nonperformance. The court will generally refuse to enforce or rescind an illegal contract. The court will generally refuse to enforce or rescind an illegal contract. The court will generally leave the parties where it finds them. The court will generally leave the parties where it finds them.

24 Copyright © 2004 by Prentice-Hall. All rights reserved. Exceptions to the General Rule Certain situations are exempt from the general rule of the effect of finding an illegal contract: 1. Innocent persons who were justifiably ignorant of the law or fact that made the contract illegal. 2. Persons who were induced to enter into an illegal contract by fraud, duress, or undue influence.

25 Copyright © 2004 by Prentice-Hall. All rights reserved. Exceptions to the General Rule (continued) 3. Persons who entered into an illegal contract withdrawn before the illegal act is performed. 4. Persons who were less at fault than the other party for entering into the illegal contract.

26 Copyright © 2004 by Prentice-Hall. All rights reserved. Using a Covenant Not to Compete with a Sale of a Business Covenants not to compete that are ancillary to a legitimate sale of a business or employment contract are lawful if they are reasonable in three aspects: Covenants not to compete that are ancillary to a legitimate sale of a business or employment contract are lawful if they are reasonable in three aspects: 1. The line of business protected. 2. The geographical area protected. 3. The duration of the restriction.

27 Copyright © 2004 by Prentice-Hall. All rights reserved. Doctrine of Unconscionability Some lawful contracts are so oppressive or manifestly unfair that they are unjust. Some lawful contracts are so oppressive or manifestly unfair that they are unjust. To prevent the enforcement of such contracts, the courts have developed the equitable doctrine of unconscionability. To prevent the enforcement of such contracts, the courts have developed the equitable doctrine of unconscionability. A contract found to be unconscionable under this doctrine is called an unconscionable contract, or a contract of adhesion. A contract found to be unconscionable under this doctrine is called an unconscionable contract, or a contract of adhesion.

28 Copyright © 2004 by Prentice-Hall. All rights reserved. Doctrine of Unconscionability (continued) Elements that must be shown to prove that a contract or clause is unconscionable: The parties possessed severely unequal bargaining power. The parties possessed severely unequal bargaining power. The dominant party unreasonably used its unequal bargaining power. The dominant party unreasonably used its unequal bargaining power. The adhering party had no reasonable alternative. The adhering party had no reasonable alternative.


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