What to do if a Party to a Contract or Deed is not an Adult

Posted by David Cammack on 27th April 2017

With any of our templates, the general rules of law apply. Where a party is a “minor” (i.e. not an adult – aged 18 or over), then any obligation in the contract is not binding on them (until as an adult they ratify it), although they (or a parent or guardian of theirs on their behalf while they remain a minor) could enforce any benefit the contract entitles them to.

In order to overcome this legal hurdle, you should do all of the following:

1. Where the child is old enough to sign for themselves in physical terms, they can sign it. Where the child is too young to be able to sign in physical terms, then a parent or guardian can sign for them. Underneath their signature, the parent or guardian should write, “Signed by” then print their name followed by “for and on behalf of the party who is a minor by his/her” and then print their relationship to the child, e.g. “father”.

2. In case there are any obligations on the child in the contract or deed, which would otherwise be unenforceable, add an extra clause to the contract or deed as follows, numbering it as appropriate:

Guarantee

The [Parent OR Guardian] guarantees to the other parties that the [insert the term that refers to the party who is the child] shall observe and carry out all of the [insert the term that refers to the party who is the child]’s obligations in this agreement. In the event that the [insert the term that refers to the party who is the child] fails to observe or carry out any of the obligations on the [insert the term that refers to the party who is the child], the [Parent OR Guardian] shall promptly observe and perform the obligations on behalf of the [insert the term that refers to the party who is the child] where possible. The [Parent OR Guardian] shall indemnify the other parties against any loss caused to any of them as a result of the [insert the term that refers to the party who is the child]’s breach of its covenants or any part of this agreement.”

This clause has the effect that the other party or parties to the contract can enforce any obligation on the minor against an adult, so a fair balance is included, despite the legal issues.

3. The parent or guardian should then be added as an additional party to the contract in the party clauses section at the start of the template. In their party clause, define them as either “the Parent” or “the Guardian”, as applicable, and as used in the new clause noted above. Also add an additional signature clause at the end of the template for the parent or guardian to sign – so they might sign it twice – once for the child, if the child is too young physically to sign, and once for themselves. Follow the wording of the other signature clauses in the template, so it is signed correctly as a contract or deed as appropriate.

It is as simple as that. Using this guide, you can adapt any of our templates to work in situations where one of the parties is a minor. Effectively the parent or guardian signing for the child would already have decided that it is in the child’s interests to enter into the contract or deed, so it should also be fair for the parent or guardian to guarantee the child’s obligations.

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