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Contract Case Law_07

Contracts made by minor 7.1 Contracts for necessaries

Nash v Inman [1908] Facts: The plaintiff was a tailor; the defendant, who was an undergraduate at Cambridge University, had ordered 11 fancy waistcoats. When the plaintiff sued for payment, the defendant pleaded lack of capacity. The plaintiff argued that the waistcoats were in the category of necessaries. . Held: There was no doubt that they were among the class of things (that is, clothing) capable of being necessaries. It was up to the plaintiff to prove, however, that the defendant was not already adequately supplied with items of this kind, which he was unable to do. The plaintiff was unable to enforce the contract. Peters v Fleming [1840] Facts: This was an action of debt for goods sold and delivered, work and labour done, and materials found and provided, and for money found to be due upon an account stated. The defendant pleaded, first, nunquam indebitatus; secondly, infancy. The plaintiff took issue on the first plea, and to the second replied, "That the goods, & at the time of the sale and delivery thereof, were necessaries suitable to the then degree, estate, and condition of the defendant." The rejoinder traversed that allegation, and thereupon issue was joined. The defendant was the eldest son of a gentleman of fortune and a member of Parliament, and at the time when the goods were supplied, and the work was done, was an undergraduate of the University of Cambridge, and resided in the University. Held: (1) To a declaration for goods sold, etc, defendant pleaded his infancy, to which plaintiff replied that the goods were necessaries suitable to the degree, estate, and condition of defendant: Held the term necessaries included such things as were useful and suitable to the state and condition in life of the party, and not merely such as are requisite for bare subsistence. (2) It is a question for the jury, whether the articles are such as a reasonable person, of the age and station of the infant, would require for real use. (3) Articles which are purely ornamental, and not useful, are not in any case necessaries. 7.2 Beneficial contracts of service

Dolye v White City Stadium [1935] Facts Plaintiff, who was under twenty-one years of age, applied in March 1932, for a licence as a boxer in the following words: I hereby apply for a licence as a boxer and, if the licence is granted me, I declare to adhere strictly to rules of the British Boxing Board (1929) as printed and abide by any further rules or alterations to existing rules as may be passed. A licence was duly granted and renewed for a further year on 1 March 1933. A copy of the rules was supplied to plaintiff at the time of his application, and regulation 20 paragraph 16, provided that the boxers money might be stopped only when he was disqualified for committing a deliberate foul, for not trying, or retiring without sufficient cause, or if the referee gives a no contest decision. This

Contract Case Law_07

paragraph was altered on 17 June 1932, to read: Boxers in case of disqualification are only entitled to receive bare travelling expenses, pending the decision of the board ... when the board ... may deal with the money as it thinks fit. No notice of the altered rules was given to plaintiff. On 12 July 1933, plaintiff agreed to box at the White City Stadium on the terms that he should receive 3,000 win, lose or draw. At the contest plaintiff was disqualified for hitting below the belt. The promoters of the contest paid the sum of 3,000 to the Board of Control at their request, and after holding an inquiry the Board withheld the money from plaintiff on the ground that he had been disqualified. Plaintiff brought proceedings to recover the amount against White City Stadium Limited, and the Board of Control. Held: 1) The contract with the Board of Control was too closely connected with a contract as to employment that was binding on the infant plaintiff, having regard to the fact that the contract as a whole was for his benefit; (2) Notice of the altered rules was unnecessary in order to make them binding on plaintiff in view of the terms of his application for a licence. Chaplin v Leslie Frewin (Publishers) Ltd [1966] Facts: C, the son of a famous film actor and producer, was an infant aged nineteen. He was living a Bohemian life and was in need of money. On 17 April 1965, he and his wife, who was of full age, entered into two contracts. By the first contract C was to tell his life story to two ghost writers, who were to write it as a book; and the copyright in the book was to vest in C and his wife. The second contract, dated 17 April 1965, was between C and his wife of the one part and defendant publishers of the other part. Clause 1 provided the publishers shall during the legal term of copyright have the exclusive right of producing, publishing and selling [the book] in volume form in any language throughout the world. By cl 2, C and his wife warranted that they were the owners of the copyright and that the book contained nothing objectionable or defamatory, and they agreed to indemnify the publishers against claims in consequence of any breach of the warranty. The publishers told them that they ought to have independent legal advice, but neither C nor his wife took such independent advice. In a short time the book was in typescript. In June 1965, C and his wife saw proofs, and the publishers showed them a letter of solicitors regarding alterations to passages that might be defamatory and told C and his wife that the alterations would be made. A meeting was arranged with a representative of the publishers in which a number of small amendments were made. On 21 July 1965, C and his wife signed a certificate that they had read a proof copy and passed the full text for publication with the amendments noted on the copy. Some weeks later C consulted solicitors. By letter of 26 August 1965, on his behalf his solicitors repudiated the agreement with the publishers on the ground of his minority. C took objection to the book on grounds that included its unpleasantness and that there were passages in it that were libellous. He brought an action, suing by his wife as next friend, against the publishers and obtained an interlocutory injunction restraining them from printing and publishing the book. On appeal Held: (1) An interlocutory injunction to restrain the publishers from printing and publishing the book should not have been granted for the following reasons (a) the words of cl 1 of the contract of 17 April 1965, with the publishers constituted an assignment of the copyright in a future work to the publishers, which would, in the case of an adult, be effective under Copyright Act 1956 (c 74), s 37 (1) to pass the copyright to the publishers so soon as the work came to existence; (b) this assignment of copyright, having been completed by the infant assignor, C, before he resiled from the contract, remained effective even though the contract of 17 April 1965, was otherwise revocable by C; (c) the contract of 17 April 1965, would be binding on C, the infant, if it were for his benefit; (d) the question whether the contract of 17 April 1965, was for Cs benefit must be judged at the date when the contract was made, and so considered, the contract was prim facie for the benefit of the infant, since the publishers alleged that the defamatory passages in the book were justifiable and since C benefited financially; (2) The action was not properly constituted in that Cs wife was not a party to it in her own right.

Contract Case Law_07

De Francesco v Barnum [1880] Facts: By an apprenticeship deed between an infant, her parent, and plaintiff, the infant was bound apprentice to plaintiff for seven years, to be taught stage dancing, upon certain terms, by one of which the infant contracted that she would not accept any professional engagement or contract matrimony during the said term without the consent of her master. The deed also contained mutual covenants by the master and the parent that the master would properly instruct the infant, and make certain payments to her for all dancing engagements in this country, and in foreign or colonial countries; in return for which the infants services were to be entirely at the disposal of the master. But there was no stipulation that the master should provide engagements for the infant or maintain her while unemployed. There was also a provision that the master might put an end to the apprenticeship if the infant should be found after fair trial unfit for the work of stage dancing, or should break any of the engagements of the deed, or in any way misconduct herself. The infant having made a professional engagement with defendant B plaintiff brought an action against B, the infant, and her parent, to enforce the provisions of the deed and for damages for breach of it. Held: A deed of apprenticeship, whereby an infant apprentice is bound for a term not to accept employment except from the master or with his consent, and which contains no co-relative covenant by the master to provide employment for the apprentice, and which may be terminated by the master only, is invalid, as being unreasonable and not for the benefit of the infant. A contract by an infant to learn a business or trade is prima facie binding upon him. To this rule there are certain exceptions which are well defined and well known. Where the contract contains terms of an extraordinary and unusual character, which are not reasonable or for the benefit of the infant, the contract is void (Fry LJ). It has been held at law from the time of Lord Coke and onwards, that an infant cannot bind himself to be liable to a penalty (Fry LJ). A contract entered into by an infant which is not for his benefit is void, and an action is not maintainable against a third party for damages for inducing the infant to break his engagements under such contract.


Recovery of property

Stocks v Wilson [1913] Facts: On a sale of furniture goods were assigned by an instrument which was a bill of sale within 1878 Act, and contained a promise by the purchaser to pay the purchase-money at a future date and a licence to the vendor to resume possession of the goods if the price was not then paid. Held: The instrument under which the purchaser acquired the goods was not a bill of sale within 1882 Act. (1) A contract, being one entire contract, for the purchase of goods is not binding on an infant, merely because the goods include certain articles which may be properly called necessaries, if they also include a substantial number of things that are not necessaries. (2) What the Court of Equity has done in cases of this kind is to prevent the infant from retaining the benefit of what he has obtained by reason of his fraud. It has done no more than this and this is a very different thing from making him liable to pay damages and compensation for the loss of the other partys bargain. If the infant has obtained property by fraud he can be compelled to restore it (Lush, J).

Contract Case Law_07

Leslie v Sheill [1914] Facts: Defendant, an infant, fraudulently representing that he was of full age, induced plaintiffs to lend him two sums of 200 each. To an action by plaintiffs to recover the amount of the advances on the ground that they had been obtained by fraudulent misrepresentation, or in the alternative for money had and received by defendant to the use of plaintiffs, defendant pleaded infancy. Held: The plea of infancy was a good answer to the action, and defendant was under no equitable liability to plaintiffs. The infant was not liable to repay the loans either as damages for fraudulent misrepresentation, or as moneys had and received by the infant to the use of the lenders, or on the ground that the infant was compellable in equity to refund the moneys which he had obtained by fraud.