Concept

Capacity in English law

Summary
Capacity in English law refers to the ability of a contracting party to enter into legally binding relations. If a party does not have the capacity to do so, then subsequent contracts may be invalid; however, in the interests of certainty, there is a prima facie presumption that both parties hold the capacity to contract. Those who contract without a full knowledge of the relevant subject matter, or those who are illiterate or unfamiliar with the English language, will not often be released from their bargains. It is recognised however that minors, and those who are deemed mentally incapacitated, may need to be able to create binding agreements when acquiring essential items for living, or for employment. Thus, contracts for necessaries (goods or services deemed necessary for ordinary living) will always be legally binding. Equally, minors have the capacity to enter into contracts for employment, when the terms of such an agreement are of general benefit to them. If not, then they ma
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