Civil Litigation – When is a minor legally responsible for their actions?


By Richard Probert

An unusual case I dealt with lately raised some points which I felt would make for interesting discussion for this week’s blog submission by yours truly. Please note that all names have been changed to avoid anyone’s identity being compromised.

Georgina called in on behalf of her son, Rodney, who had gone to a high street mobile shop when he was 17 years old and successfully managed to get the latest mobile phone on a contract. This was after the assistant had checked his identity and run the relevant credit checks (which in all events should have rung bells immediately).

As with many young people, Rodney did not budget properly and fell into arrears with the mobile phone company. By this time he had turned 18 and he was pursued as an adult for the monies outstanding by the company.

Georgina felt it was time to get involved and is now arguing that this contract should be null and void due to the fact that it was sold to a minor. She argues that Rodney was not old enough to make the choice of taking on a credit agreement and was in fact not even legally able to do so without adult consent.

There is an argument that the contract could be ratified now that Rodney is an adult but this is a complex argument to present. The argument states that just by turning 18, Rodney suddenly agreed to the terms and conditions stated in the contract. But this does not hide the fact that at the time the contract was being entered into, it could still solidly be proven through records that Rodney was a minor and could not legally enter into a binding contract. The mobile company decided to take it a step further and pursue Rodney for committing fraud by lying about his age. However, the shop assistant had been given Rodney’s passport upon application so his age was disclosed.

This is a very contentious issue and both sides could present some very compelling arguments. It is one example of where a civil litigation solicitor can become invaluable.

Solicitors are involved in these sorts of disputes every day and litigation law is continually evolving with new angles and facts presenting themselves constantly. Contact law can put you in touch with civil litigation solicitors that deal with these sorts of cases on a regular basis with proven track records of success.

Richard Probert is one of Caven’s most experienced and knowledgeable telephone advisors.

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