Contracts with minors

Artists are often young people or children and as a result the rules relating to minors are of particular importance to music contracts.

The definition of a minor is simply a person under the age of 18 (Family Law Reform Act 1969 s 1). Contract law dictates that a contract with a minor is voidable (note that this is not the same as it being void) at the minor’s option at any time that the minor is under the age of 18 and for a reasonable period after reaching the age of 18 (Proform Sports Management Ltd v Proactive Sports Management Ltd [2006] EWHC 2903). Accordingly therefore a contract with a minor is potentially unenforcable against the minor although not the other way round. There are, however, exceptions to the rule.

If the contract in question is for ‘necessaries’ then it will be enforceable. ‘Necessaries’ includes contracts for goods (food etc), services (medial services etc) and also contracts for education, service (employment) etc. The case of Denmark Productions Ltd v Boscobel Productions Ltd [1968] 3 WLR 841 held that a management conract was analogous to a contract of service and as a result was enforceable, however, a contract with an agent was found unecessary (Proform Sports).

Just because a contract is for ‘necessaries’ does not mean that it will always be enforceable. To be enforceable the contract must not be prejudicial to the minor’s interests i.e. it should not be unduly one-sided.

If you are contracting with a minor you must ensure that they take legal advice, put together a contract with the minor’s guardian to guarantee the minor’s performance of the contract and indemnifying you and also that the contract is not prejudicial to the minor’s interests.

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