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Bus law today 9th ed ch0

BUSINESS LAW TODAY
Essentials 9th Ed.

Roger LeRoy Miller - Institute for University Studies, Arlington, Texas
Gaylord A. Jentz - University of Texas at Austin, Emeritus

Chapter

9

Contracts: Capacity,
Legality, Assent, and
Form

© 2011 Cengage Learning. All Rights Reserved. May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part, except for use as permitted in
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1


Learning Objectives







Does a minor have the capacity to enter into an
enforceable contract? What does it mean to
disaffirm a contract?
What is an exculpatory clause? In what
circumstances might exculpatory clauses be
enforced? When will they not be enforced?
In what types of situations might voluntary
consent to a contract’s terms be lacking?
What are the elements of fraudulent
misrepresentation?
What contracts must be in writing to be
enforceable?

© 2011 Cengage Learning. All Rights Reserved. May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part, except for use as permitted in
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2


Contractual Capacity
 The legal ability to enter into a
contractual relationship.
Full competence.
No competence.
Limited competence.

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3


Minors
 In most states, a person is no longer a
minor for contractual purposes at the
age of 18.
 A minor can enter into any contract that
an adult can.
 A contract entered into by a minor is
voidable at the option of that minor.

© 2011 Cengage Learning. All Rights Reserved. May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part, except for use as permitted in
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4


Disaffirmance
 A contract can be disaffirmed at any time
during minority or for a reasonable
period after the minor comes of age.
 Minor must disaffirm the entire contract.
 Disaffirmance can be expressed or
implied.

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5


Minor’s Obligation on
Disaffirmance
 In most states, minor need only return
the goods (or other consideration)
subject to the contract, provided the
goods are in the minor’s possession or
control.
 In increasing number of states, the minor
must restore the adult to the position
held before the contract was made.

© 2011 Cengage Learning. All Rights Reserved. May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part, except for use as permitted in
a license distributed with a certain product or service or otherwise on a password-protected website for classroom use.

6


Exceptions to Minor’s Right to
Disaffirm
 Misrepresentation of Age.
Generally, minor can disaffirm the contract.
But growing number of states prohibit
disaffirmance and hold the minor liable.

 Contracts for Necessaries.
Contracts for food, clothing, shelter may be
disaffirmed by minor, who remains liable for the
reasonable value of goods or services.

© 2011 Cengage Learning. All Rights Reserved. May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part, except for use as permitted in
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7


Exceptions to Minor’s Right to
Disaffirm
 Insurance.
 Not viewed as necessaries, so minor can
disaffirm contract and recover all premiums
paid.

 Loans.
Seldom considered to be necessaries.
Exception:
• Loan to a minor for the express purpose of enabling
the minor to purchase necessaries.

© 2011 Cengage Learning. All Rights Reserved. May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part, except for use as permitted in
a license distributed with a certain product or service or otherwise on a password-protected website for classroom use.

8


Ratification
 Occurs when a minor, on or after
reaching majority, indicates (expressly
or impliedly) an intention to become
bound by a contract made as a minor.
 Executed v. Executory contracts.

© 2011 Cengage Learning. All Rights Reserved. May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part, except for use as permitted in
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9


Parent’s Liability
 Contracts.
Parents not liable (This is why parents are
usually required to sign any contract made with a
minor).

 Torts (Statutes Vary):
Minors are personally liable for their own torts.
Liability imposed on parents only for willful acts of
their minor children.
Liability imposed on parents for their children
negligent acts that result from their parents’
negligence.
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10


Intoxicated Persons
 Lack of contractual capacity at the time
the contract is being made.
 Contract can be either voidable or valid.
Courts look at objective indications to
determine if contract is voidable.

 If voidable:
Person has the option to disaffirm, or
Person may ratify the contract expressly or
impliedly.
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Mentally Incompetent Persons
 Void.
 If a person has been adjudged mentally incompetent
by a court of law and a guardian has been appointed.

 Voidable.
 If the person does not know he or she is entering into
the contract or lacks the mental capacity to
comprehend its nature, purpose, and consequences.

 Valid.
 If person is able to understand the nature and effect
of entering into a contract yet lacks capacity to
engage in other activities.
 Lucid Interval.
© 2011 Cengage Learning. All Rights Reserved. May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part, except for use as permitted in
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12


Legality
 A contract to do something prohibited by
federal or state statutory law is illegal
and therefore void (never existed).
 Contracts Contrary to Statute.
Contracts to commit a crime.
Usury.
Gambling.
Licensing Statutes.

© 2011 Cengage Learning. All Rights Reserved. May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part, except for use as permitted in
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13


Contracts in Restraint of Trade
 Covenants not to Compete and the Sale
of an Ongoing Business.

Covenants Not to Compete in Employment
Contracts are legal as long as the duration and
geographic limits are reasonable.

 CASE 9.1

Comedy Club, Inc. v. Improv
West Associates (2009). Covenant not to

compete for 14 years covering 48 states was too
broad and therefore invalid.

© 2011 Cengage Learning. All Rights Reserved. May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part, except for use as permitted in
a license distributed with a certain product or service or otherwise on a password-protected website for classroom use.

14


Unconscionable Contracts
 Procedural Unconsionability: adhesion
contracts.
 Substantive Unconsionability: when
terms of contract are oppressive or
overly harsh.

© 2011 Cengage Learning. All Rights Reserved. May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part, except for use as permitted in
a license distributed with a certain product or service or otherwise on a password-protected website for classroom use.

15


Unconscionable Contracts

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16


Exculpatory Clauses
 Release a party from liability in the

event of monetary or physical injury,
no matter who is at fault. Courts
generally view these clauses with
disfavor.

© 2011 Cengage Learning. All Rights Reserved. May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part, except for use as permitted in
a license distributed with a certain product or service or otherwise on a password-protected website for classroom use.

17


Effect of Illegality
 Justifiable Ignorance of the Facts.
 Members of Protected Classes.
 Withdrawal from an Illegal Agreement.
 Severable or Divisible Contracts.
 Contract Illegal through Fraud, Duress,
or Undue Influence.

© 2011 Cengage Learning. All Rights Reserved. May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part, except for use as permitted in
a license distributed with a certain product or service or otherwise on a password-protected website for classroom use.

18


Voluntary Consent: Mistakes

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19


Mistakes

 Mistake of Value (or Quality).
Contract is enforceable.

 Unilateral Mistake (of Fact).
Party does not have the right to cancel
contract unless:
• (1) the non-mistaken party knew or should
have known about the mistake, or
• (2) there is a clerical error.
© 2011 Cengage Learning. All Rights Reserved. May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part, except for use as permitted in
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20


Mistakes
 Bilateral (Mutual) Mistakes—if both are
mistaken, either one can cancel the
contract.
 CASE 9.2 Inkel v. Pride ChevroletPontiac, Inc. (2008). For mutual mistake to
occur, both parties must have been mistaken
about a material fact. This was a matter of fact for
a jury.

© 2011 Cengage Learning. All Rights Reserved. May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part, except for use as permitted in
a license distributed with a certain product or service or otherwise on a password-protected website for classroom use.

21


Fraudulent Misrepresentation
 Contract is voidable by innocent party.
Injured party must show:

Misrepresentation of a material fact (not
opinion) by conduct, of law, silence, or words.
Opinion is not fact (unless it is an expert
opinion).

 CASE 9.3 Rosenweig v. Givens (2009).

Whether fraud was committed in the context of a
fiduciary relationship between the parties was a
question of fact for a jury.

© 2011 Cengage Learning. All Rights Reserved. May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part, except for use as permitted in
a license distributed with a certain product or service or otherwise on a password-protected website for classroom use.

22


Fraudulent Misrepresentation
 Injured party must show (cont’d):
Intent to deceive. Also known as “scienter.”
Innocent party must have justifiably relied on
the misrepresentation.
Plaintiff must have suffered a legal injury.

© 2011 Cengage Learning. All Rights Reserved. May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part, except for use as permitted in
a license distributed with a certain product or service or otherwise on a password-protected website for classroom use.

23


Undue Influence & Duress
 Undue Influence.
Arises from a special relationship of trust.
A stronger party overcomes a weaker party’s
free will by exerting psychological influence.

 Duress.
Threat of physical force or extortion.
Can serve as basis for rescission of contract.
Economic need, by itself, is not duress.

© 2011 Cengage Learning. All Rights Reserved. May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part, except for use as permitted in
a license distributed with a certain product or service or otherwise on a password-protected website for classroom use.

24


Form: Statute of Frauds

© 2011 Cengage Learning. All Rights Reserved. May not be copied, scanned, or duplicated, in whole or in part, except for use as permitted in
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