Legally speaking, minors or people who are not of legal age can’t enter a contract. But if ever you were able to get them to sign a contract, that document wouldn’t be accepted as valid. Meaning, you can’t enforce all the conditions stated in the contract against the minor.
This article forms part of our law school series.
However, there’s always an exception to the rule. The Minors Act 1970 No. 60 states that you can enter a contract with a minor just for two reasons:
Although you are entitled to sign a contract with an underaged individual, you must bear in mind that minors can opt out anytime. Once they decide to back out of the agreement, you cannot enforce the conditions written on the contract. You have no other choice but to let them opt out.
Employment Contract for Minors
There are reasons why minors aged 16 and older want to work at an early age. Their family might be underprivileged that they have to work to afford necessities, or their family is doing okay but there are luxuries that they want to buy themselves.
When hiring a minor, a contract must still protect their interests and rights. The agreement must not be unfair or oppressive in any way, shape, or form. Also, when the minor reaches legal age, he or she has all the right to renounce the agreement.
The contract will only remain binding if ever the minor does not renounce the agreement.
Necessities Contract for Minors
This agreement should include all the essentials that a minor needs.
Other activities like music lessons, sports, and art classes
If ever the minor is already receiving some of these needs through other means, a new contract for that necessity might not be needed anymore.
Can you enforce a contract against a minor?
Like we’ve said earlier, you can’t enforce the contract against them once they’ve decided to back out of the agreement. It doesn’t matter if it’s a contract for employment or necessities.
However, there are a few exceptions again to this rule.
If you’ve signed an agreement with both the child and the parent or legal guardians and the minor decides to back out, you might be able to claim something against the parents or whoever the other signatories are.
The second circumstance is when you enter a land contract. The agreement will remain enforceable until the minor takes the right steps of opting out of the agreement.
You can only enforce a contract against a minor if…
1. The minor reaches legal age and opts in the contract
The legal age varies depending on what country you live in. So whatever the legal age in your country is, the minor can either affirm or back out of the agreement once he or she reaches that age.
If the minor decides to affirm or continue the contract, that’s when it becomes fully enforceable. Just make sure to provide proof that by the time of the signing, the minor has the legal capacity to enter a contract.
2. The minor enters a new contract
In some countries, if the minor decides to sign a new agreement while he or she is still a minor, there’s a great chance that the second contract will be enforced against the minor.
However, this rule is not applicable in Australia. That’s why whenever you are entering a contract with a minor, make sure to consult legal experts like Gibbs Wright Lawyers first. An expert legal team will certainly help you understand the ins and outs of the rules regarding contracts.
This way, you’ll know what decisions to make and the steps to take.