Putnam's Handy Law Book for the Layman

Minor. - The contracts of a minor are of two kinds, those for necessaries and other things. Contracts for necessaries made by him the law will uphold. They are really implied contracts which the law will sustain for his benefit and protection. What are necessaries is a question of fact, not always easily answered. Much depends on a minor's place in society and condition. The question is for a jury to decide, also whether the prices for them are reasonable or not. One of the well-known cases occurred many years ago. The bill against the minor was for more than a thousand dollars for twelve coats, seventeen vests, twenty-three pairs of trousers, five canes, fur caps, chip hats and other things, in less than six months. The jury rendered a verdict for almost the entire amount, but the reviewing court remarked that the bill made the members shudder, that the seller must have known that all these things were not needed for the minor's comfort within that short period, and the verdict was therefore set aside.

The question is constantly arising, what are necessaries? A thing might be to one and not to another. Thus a bicycle merely for pleasure would not be a necessity; one that is used to go to and from an individual's daily work would be. A dentist's bill for repairing one's teeth has been disputed, the law, though, generally favors the preservation of human teeth. Education furnished to a minor may be a necessary thing, yet only when it is suitable to his wants and condition. Should a [177]minor repudiate a contract, the law is observed if he restores all that he has received, or that is capable of restoration.

With respect to contracts for other things, they are not always void, but may be avoided. If they have not been executed, he can disavow them at any time. If nothing is done during infancy inaction operates generally as an affirmation. If he disaffirms a contract, he must return the thing purchased or received, or make the best restitution he can, for it would not be just to retain possession and refuse payment.

A different rule applies to a minor who makes a fraudulent contract. Suppose he buys goods assuring the seller that he is twenty-one years of age when in fact he is not, though nearly so. Can the seller recover on his contract? No, but the law has another way of reaching him. He is liable in an action of deceit, and the amount or damage that may be recovered is that of the goods sold to him.

A minor who has a parent or guardian cannot make a contract even for necessaries, nor is he under any obligation to pay his bills for them. Should he be in need of such things and his guardian or parent be unwilling to furnish them, they can be compelled by law if having the means to provide him with whatever he requires.


Do It Yourself Legal Forms
Law for the Laymen - The Minor
Page Updated 7:33 PM Saturday 4/4/2015