My son who is 18 years old has entered into a contract with a company that has designed a website for him. The cost was $25 000. The company has still not finalised what was promised but they are now demanding payment and sent him legal letters. I would like to know if it is legal for an 18 year old enter into a contract and he is basically unemployed and they didn't do any check to determine if he could afford to pay for the job. I at no stage was aware that he had signed the contract.
If he was 18 when he entered into the contract then he will generally be legally bound by it. If he was under 18 when he entered the contract, but has done anything to confirm his acceptance of the contract after turning 18 (such as giving instructions about the website) then he will generally be bound by it.
Whether he is obliged to pay now, before the website is operational, will depend on the terms of the contract and at what point payment is required.
If they are having a few problems completing the contract, it might be prudent to see a lawyer now who can go over the contract arrangements in detail and see if there is a way to get out of it.
If he cannot get out of the contract and has no money or assets to pay it, then the worst case is that he can be sued and if he fails to meet the judgment of the court, can be made bankrupt. Bankruptcy generally lasts for three years, after which all declared debts are legally forgiven, at which point his obligation to pay them ceases and he gets a 'fresh start' save that his prior bankruptcy will be recorded on the national register which may affect his credit rating going forward.
The only reassuring news I can give you is that as a parent you are not responsible for your son's debts.
I trust the above assists your understanding.
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Dip Law LPAB - Sydney based lawyer
Thanks for your comments. The fact that they agreed to enter into a contract with a young man who was not employed or doesn't have any money certainly doesn't reflect duty of care.
In general, parties to contracts are under no obligation to check the other parties capacity to pay (though it is prudent to do so) and if your son entered into his arrangement via the internet or telephone, they may not have realised his age or circumstances.
If you give me some details about the circumstances of his agreeing to enter into this contract I may be able to comment further on whether there is any impropriety surrounding his entering into such a contract. It would also assist greatly if you could let me know what your son's explanation is?
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