You’ve likely heard it before. You’re out of luck because you agreed to all the countless pages of fine print. In essence, you entered into a contract and feel as though you have no exit strategy. Many times, you have no recourse but to honor the terms of your agreement. However, there are circumstances under which courts may be willing to intervene. This post will briefly discuss some of those scenarios, which are:
(1) Contracts involving minors or someone with mental incapacity to enter into a contractual agreement. One must have capacity to contract, and with rare exceptions, minors do not have capacity to contract. As such, courts may void contracts when one or more parties lacked the capacity to contract when it was formed.
(2) A mistake as to a basic assumption under which the contract was made. The issue then turns to whether the mistake was a material one made by one or both parties. If both parties make a material mistake, the contract may be voidable.
(3) Evidence of fraud. Trying to explain the scope of fraud in one or even multiple blog posts is likely futile. For the purposes of this post, courts are willing to step in when a party intentionally misrepresents either facts to induce a party to enter into a contract or the character or content of the contract itself. These misrepresentations could arise to the level of fraud.
(4) Contracts made under duress. If a party entered into a contract as the victim of an unlawful threat or act and that threat or act left that party with no reasonable alternative except to contract, then the contract is void.
(5) Contracts made for an illegal purpose. An illegal contract is an oxymoron. Illegal contracts are void and unenforceable. For example, an illegal bookmaker can’t sue a client for failure to pay based on some prior agreement.
(6) Unconscionable contracts. When a contract is so one-sided as a result of superior bargaining power or understanding of terms as to leave the other party with no choice at the time the contract is made, the contract could be considered unconscionable.
Generally, all the elements of a contract exist when contracts are formed and thus parties are required to honor the contract’s terms. But sometimes scenarios exist when there are issues with the contract itself or the way it was formed. If you think one of those scenarios might apply to your current situation, consider consulting with an attorney.