- Top reasons contracts are legally unenforceable
- July 8, 2011
- Law Firm: Law Offices of Stephen Foster - San Antonio Office
There are many times that a contract may not be enforceable. Some contracts are void, which means that the law considers the contract nothing. In other instances, a court might find a contract "voidable" which means that one or more parties have the right to enforce the contract or disregard the contract.
One reason a contract might be thrown out is if a person has a "lack of capacity". "Lack of capacity" means that they are too young to enter into a contract or they are mentally unable to do so. Depending upon the situation, the contract might be voidable at the option of the young or incapacitated person or the contract might be fundamentally void for all purposes.
Contracts can also be thrown out if they are obtained using misrepresentations. Even though a contract looks good on its surface, if it was obtained with misrepresentations or lies then there is a chance that it can be ruled unenforceable. The question of what is a misrepresentation or simply advertising or "puffery" can be subtle and doesn't always seem logical.
"Nondisclosure" is another way a contract can be unenforceable. Nondisclosure is basically misrepresentation through silence. There are many exceptions to this and it is important to make sure that you understand how the law will interpret the individual facts of any given situation.
A contract signed under "duress" is not enforceable. If a contract is only signed as a result of a threat it is said to be signed "under duress". Duress can be a physical threat but it can be much more subtle than that. Duress can also be emotional or economic. There are centuries of caselaw that defines what duress is and what duress is not.
Some contracts can be voided because they are so unfair that they are said to be unconscionable, which means so unfair that the contract can not be allowed to remain as it is. Some contracts can be unenforceable because they are against public policy. Other contracts are eliminated because they are a result of a mistake or are simply impossible to perform.
Simply because someone has a contract does not mean that that contract will be enforceable. It is important to consider whether or not a court is going to enforce contract or will render it useless when dealing with a contractual obligation.