Project No. 25(II)
The law in Western Australia governing contracts made by minors (that is, persons under the age of 18) is based on general common law principles developed by the English courts over many years. Under these principles, contracts made by minors are divided into a number of different categories with different consequences attaching to each.
Apart from being uncertain and, in some cases, unnecessarily complex the law relating to minors’ contracts was further perceived to be out of touch with modern conditions. For instance, the category of ‘necessaries' depended upon the ‘rank’ and ‘station in life’ of the minor concerned. This 19th century language betrays a legal distinction based on wealth and status that is now widely considered objectionable.
In 1971, the Committee was asked to examine the law relating to contracts made by minors. This reference was part of a general reference to review the legal capacity of minors in relation to contracts and property.
To date there has been no legislative action to reform the law relating to minors’ contracts. The Commission’s recommendations remain current.
Last updated: 31-Jan-2017
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