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This is just an example If a 17 year old walks into a car ...

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This is just an example: If a 17 year old walks into a car dealership and purchases a car and he puts down a downpayment and signs a contract that he agrees that he will make payments of $150 per month but after 6 months he loses his job and takes the car back and wants to cancel his contract and wants his money back. (salesperson assumed he was of age but did not ask) What could potentially happen? What are potential legal and equitable remedies?
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Business Law
Expert:  Law Girl replied 6 years ago.

DearCustomer

Thank you for your question.

It will depend on the age at which someone can legally enter into a contract in your jurisdiction. Judging by your question, I will assume that the legal age is 18. If this is the case, then there is no contact that can be enforced against the party that is underage. In this situation, it may be feasible for the car to be given back and the money to be returned. However, the dealership may attempt to hold the minor's parents responsible for their damages. Whether they are successful may depend on whether they entered into the contract based upon their own negligence, i.e. failure to check the minor's licensure or upon any fraudulent representations made by the minor, i.e. attempting to misdirect the dealership as to their age.

If this is a jurisdiction wherein someone is able to enter into a contract at 17, then there may be no way out of the contract. Even if the individual has lost their job, that does not mean that the dealership needs to take the car back. So the 17 year old would have no remedies in equity or law.

Please let me know if you have any other questions, or require clarification of this matter. Otherwise please hit "ACCEPT", so I may receive credit for my response. Tips and feedback are also appreciated.

Good Luck!

-KAT

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Assuming that the dealership was negligent what would the legal ramifications be..And if the boy was a minor and entered knowingly into the contract what potential legal and equitable remedies would they face?
Expert:  Law Girl replied 6 years ago.

If the dealership was negligent, then they may be responsible for their own losses. (They may be prohibited from trying to sue the boy's parents for their damages as a result of the boy using the car for the 6 months and the resulting depreciation.) However, if the boy knowingly entered into a contract from which he derived a benefit, the court may find equitably that the boy is estopped from seeking to have all of his monies returned under the contract. The court may merely extinguish all perceived obligations under the contract moving forward.

Since the damages will be left to a judge's factual analysis and discretion, it is difficult to know what the exact outcome would be.

Law Girl, Attorney
Category: Business Law
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