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Effects of an agreement entered into with a minor

The law relating to agreements with minors and the effects thereof may be discussed under the following heads:

Agreements with a minor are absolutely void (void-ab-initio)

An agreement entered into with a minor is void ab initio, i.e., void from the very beginning. It is absolutely null and void and destitute of any legal effects. Hence, there is no room for a legal consequence. It can be further stated that any contract entered into with a minor is not a contract at all, it is rather an agreement which is not enforceable by law and hence it can be categorized as void agreement and such agreements do not enjoy any legal effect.
The view that the minor’s agreement is absolutely void was provided by Privy Council in a landmark judgment in 1903 in the case of Mohiri Bibi vs. Dharmodas Ghosh.
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A minor can be a beneficiary or a promise

An agreement for the benefit of a minor is enforceable by the minor. If a minor is a beneficiary in an agreement, he can enforce such an agreement at his option but not at the option of the other party. Thus a minor is capable of becoming a promisee or endorsee but not a promisor or endorser.



Amar, a minor, agreed to purchase a second-hand cycle for ₹ 1,000 from Akbar, a major. He paid ₹ 200 as advance and agreed to pay the balance on the next day and collect the cycle. When Amar came with the money the next day, Akbar told him that he had changed his mind and offered to return the advance. Akbar cannot avoid the contract, though Amar may, if he wants to.


A minor can plead for his minority (no estoppel)

Rule of Estopple refers to the fact that a person is not allowed to deny the fact that he once projected to the other by words spoken or written or by his conduct. The rule of estopple does not apply to a minor. When a minor fraudulently enters into a contract representing that he is a major, he is allowed to plead his minority as defense and he cannot be estopped (i.e. prevented) from doing so.



Amar, a minor, fraudulently represents himself to be a major, induces Akbar to lend him ₹ 5,000. Later Amar refused to repay and Akbar sued for recovery of the money. Amar pleaded that he was a minor and was allowed to do so. The contract therefore was held void and Amar was not liable to repay the amount.



Note: A minor is not allowed by law to cheat others and he cannot take undue advantage by representing himself falsely. Thus the Specific Relief Act provides that the court may direct the minor to restore the money or property to the other party if such money or property can be traced.


In the above example, if the minor, Amar, has spent ₹ 3,000 and holds ₹ 2,000, then the court may direct the minor to repay the traced money i.e. ₹ 2,000 to Akbar, the money lender.


Ratification not possible

Ratification means affirming or accepting the acts done. Ratification relates back to the date of making of an agreement. Ratification can only be done for the acts which were valid at the time of formation and also at the time of ratification. A minor on attaining the majority cannot ratify the agreement made by him during his minority, as agreement with minor is altogether void.
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Note: If the services were rendered to the minor at his request during his minority and the same are continued at his request after majority, he can be held liable to pay for the services rendered both during his minority and majority.


Liability of minor in torts

Tort means a harmful action punishable by law (civil wrong). A minor may be held liable in tort. Minors are liable for negligence causing injury or damage to a property that does not belong to them.


Note: If minor does and act outside the scope of the contract and such act leads to injury to the other party then he can be held liable for tort.

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Note: But if in the course of doing what minor is entitled to do under the contract, even if he is found guilty of negligence, the minor cannot be made liable on tort.

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The minor cannot be a partner

The partnership of partners results from their agreement. A minor being incompetent to enter into a contract cannot be a partner in the firm. However, he may be admitted only to the benefits of the firm with the consent of all other partners [Sec. 30 (1) of the Indian Partnership Act, 1932].


Note: A minor is liable to a third party only to a extent of his interest in the firm.

The minor can be an agent

An agent is merely a connecting link between his principal and a third person. As per Sec. 184 of Indian Contract Act any person can become an agent and therefore a minor can be appointed as an agent. However, the principal cannot hold the minor agent personally liable for any act performed by him.

The minor cannot be insolvent

A person becomes insolvent if his debts exceed his assets. A minor cannot be declared as an insolvent. This is so because all agreements with a minor are absolutely void. Moreover, the minor is not personally liable for any debt incurred during the period of his minority and therefore he cannot be adjudged insolvent.

No liability of guardians for the acts of a minor

The guardian or parents of a minor is not liable for the acts of the minor, even if the contract is for the supply of necessaries to the minor. However, if a minor acts as an agent of the guardian or parents, the guardian can be held liable for the acts of the minor.

Liability of a minor for the acts of the guardian

A guardian may enter into an agreement on behalf of a minor and it will be valid and binding on the minor provided
  • The guardian is authorised to do so
  • The agreement must be for the benefit of the minor

Note: The guardian cannot sell immovable property of the minor without the Court’s permission.

Minor as a shareholder

In order to become a shareholder a minor requires contractual capacity and hence under ordinary circumstances a minor cannot become a shareholder in a company. A minor can be the transferee of fully paid up shares. A minor can become a shareholder in a Company through his guardian who will act as his trustee for the purpose. In the Company’s register, the guardian’s name (not the minor’s name) shall be recorded. A minor cannot be a member of the Company because he cannot buy / sell the shares of the Company.

Position of minor in case of agreements jointly entered by him with a major

If an agreement is made jointly by a minor and major with a third party, the minor will not be liable under the contract, but the major will be liable for the same.

No specific performance order

A specific performance order is the order granted by the Court against the defaulting party of a contract to perform the promise as per the terms and conditions of the contract. As a minor cannot be a promisor, he cannot be forced to perform a promise because an agreement with a minor is void.

Minor’s liability for necessaries

  • As per Sec. 68, in any contract for supply of necessaries to an minor or his dependent, neither the minor nor his guardian is personally liable
  • The minor’s estate is liable for the price of the necessaries supplied to him or to any other person lawfully dependent on him
  • If a minor has no personal property, then no recovery is possible
  • The term necessaries include articles required to maintain a particular person in the state, degree and status in life which he is currently enjoying
  • In India, food, clothing, shelter, medical treatment, training, pursuing court case, education, marriage of a female and others which are reasonably necessary to a minor have been held to be necessaries. Minor is not personally liable but the property of minor can be made liable in case of necessaries supplied to him

Conditions for recovery

  • The material supplied to a minor must be apt to the life of the minor. It must be according to his status. Necessity differs from person to person. For example, a car can be necessary for a rich person, but is a luxury for poor person
  • The minor should not be in adequate supply of the same. If the minor already has sufficient supply of necessaries, any further supply will not be considered as a necessity
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Note: Neccessaries does not include any luxury items.

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