LEGAL PERSPECTIVE: Minors Contract by Dr AbdelGadir Warsama Ghalib, Legal Counsel, Bahrain

Dr AbdelGadir Warsama Ghalib, Principal Legal Counsel, Bahrain

Age of maturity is required for the capacity of each contract. We have all passed the age of maturity, however, we need to be aware particularly when our minor son or daughter is making a contract. Generally, minors lack the capacity, till age of maturity. The idea behind minors in capacity, is that a minor (a person who is not legally considered to be an adult), may not be able to bargain effectively with older more experienced persons. Courts, responded to this idea by making minors contracts voidable, wherein minors are given the right to disaffirm the contract. Since the idea is for protection, the minor only can disaffirm. Adults who contract with minors are bound to the agreement unless the minor chooses to disaffirm. Minors contracts are voidable at their wish. So, if you rent a flat to a minor, as a landlord you would not be able to disaffirm the rental contract, if they continue living and paying the rent.

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The rule is that they can disaffirm their contract at any time during their minority, and for a reasonable time after attaining majority. A minor may disaffirm by doing anything that indicates to the other party an intent to be bound by the contract. Only the minor or his representative guardian, may exercise the right to disaffirm. The minor who doesn’t disaffirm within a reasonable time after attaining majority is held to have ratified the contract and thereafter loses the right to disaffirm. The idea behind the ratification, is that the adults who indicate an intent to be bound by the contracts entered while still minors should be bound to those contracts and denied the rights to disaffirm thereafter. As adults, they are assumed to have enough knowledge and experience to judge the wisdom of those contracts. By the same reasoning, minors lacking such traits cannot ratify contracts while still minors.

Any words or conduct on the part of the minor after reaching majority that indicates an intent to be bound by the contract are enough for ratification. If the minor, after attaining majority sells or gives away the consideration received under the agreement, this is enough for ratification. Performing part of the contract after attaining majority, such as making payments or accepting some performance under the contract, is often treated as evidence of an intent to ratify. Better, to avoid hassle.