Minor refers an infant person who has not attained certain age as specified by law for certain purpose. The person, who has attained the age as specified by law, is called the adult. The minor and adult are treated by law differently.
It is believed that minor or infant do not understand the nature and consequence of action and they do not control themselves, so they are treated differently than adult. The age of minority is different in different country and somewhere may be same. In Nepal the age of competency is different in different purpose. Like competent age for marriage or competent age for contract are different in Nepal.
Section 3(1) of the Nepal Contract Act, 2056, expressly provides that a minor is a person who has not completed the age of 16 years. It means the minor is a person who does not attain the certain age as specified by the law for the certain purpose. The main objective to determine the age limitation of minority is to protect their rights and interests against the experienced and adult person.
This provision is made for protection of minor on the ground that the law must protect the interests of weak person. (e.g. Child, Person of unsound mind) Therefore law protects minor, preserves his rights and interests and helps him in his dealings on account of absence of maturity. The law has prohibited forming a contract by or with the minor.
Rules Regarding Minor's Contract:
It is clear that the minor has no right to enter into contract. If done, such contract becomes void and does not enforce by the court of law. There are several rules regarding to minor's contract. The Nepal Contract Act, 2056 has also recognized these rules to some extent which are given below:
In Mohiri Bibi vs. Dharmodas Canose, Court held that; a minor sued for setting aside the mortgage stating that he was underage when the executed the mortgage. In this case court held that, the mortgage was void and therefore, it was cancelled.
Further, the moneylender's request for the repayment of the amount advanced to the minor as part of the consideration for the mortgage was also not accepted.
1. Contract made by or with a minor becomes void:
A minor person is regarded as incompetent party of contract and any contract made by or with minor is void. It has not legal value and do not enforce through formal court.
2. Contract for the benefit of minor is valid:
Although a contract with a minor is void but he can promise of a contract which is made for his benefit. The beneficial contract to minor is regarded valid for his benefit and it is enforced at his option, but not the option of the other party.
3. No ratification on attaining the age of majority:
If any contract is made by a minor party, it cannot be ratified by him after attaining his majority. If he wants to provide validity such contract he has to formulate fresh contract.
4. The minor can not become a partner but he may be beneficiary:
The partnership among the partners is result of their contract. A minor can not become a partner in the firm but he may be admitted to the beneficiary of an existing firm with consent of the other parties. In the other words, the minor can share the profit but not share losses. He does not become personally liable for any obligation of the firm.
5. The minor can be an agent but does not liable for his act:
A minor can be appointed as an agent because an agent performs only a contracting role between the principal and third party as per his assigned role. The minor does not liable for his acts. Such liability goes to the principal. He is free from the personal responsibility.
6. Parents can be made a necessary contract on behalf of minor:
To preserve the interest of minor his parents or any other third person may be become a guardian and such guardian can enter in to necessary contract on behalf of minor.
7. Contract by minor and major jointly:
If any contract is made by a minor jointly with a major person, the minor is not liable under such contract but the adult person is fully liable and the contract can be enforced against him.
8. The rule of estoppel does not apply to minor:
Estoppel is a principle that under which a person does not go against his prior statement. If a person expressed a particular statement on any matter or fact he is bound to obey it in future. In the case of minor this rule is not applicable.
9. Minor and status of insolvency:
A minor can not be declared as an insolvent because he is not capable to enter in to a contract. He is not personally liable even in the case of necessaries supplied or necessaries services rendered to him or his dependents.
10. Minor's liability for necessaries things:
In the case of necessaries supplied to a minor the person who has supplied those things can be entitled to be reimbursed from the property of such minor. But a minor is not personally liable. Only his property will be the subject of liability. Therefore if a minor has not his own property, the supplier will lose the price of such necessary things also.