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Void Agreement
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Mominur Rahman

 
By Mominur Rahman
Published on 19 October 2006
 
Void agreement definition, expressly declared void agreement and some discussion on void agreement.

Void Agreement
Definition:

Literally: Void means having no legal value and agreement means Arrangement, promise or contract made with somebody.  So void agreement means an agreement that has no legal value.

Traditionally: “An agreement not enforceable by law is said to be void”. [Sec 2(g)]

A void agreement has no legal effect. An agreement which does not satisfy the essential elements of contract is void. Void contract confers no rights on any person and creates no obligation.

Example of void agreement: An agreement made by a minor, agreement without consideration, certain agreements against public policy etc.

Agreement which become void:
An agreement, which was legal and enforceable when it was entered in to, may subsequently become void due to impossibility of performance, change of law or other reason. When it become void the agreement ceases to have legal effect.  

EXPRESSLY DECLARED VOID AGREEMENT
There are certain agreements, which are expressly declared to be void.
They are as follows:
(1)      Agreement by a minor or a person of unsound mind.[Sec(11)]
(2)      Agreement of which the consideration or object is unlawful[Sec(23)]
(3)      Agreement made under a bilateral  mistake of fact material to the agreement[Sec(20)]
(4)      Agreement of which the consideration or object is unlawful in part and the illegal  part can not be separated from the legal part [Sec(24)]
(5)      Agreement made. without consideration.[Sec(25)]
(6)      Agreement in restraint of marriage [Sec(26)]
(7)      Agreement in restrain of trade  [Sec(27)]
(8)      Agreement  in restrain of legal proceedings[Sec(28)]
(9)      Agreements the meaning of which is uncertain [Sec(29)]
(10)    Agreements by way of wager [Sec(30)]
(11)    Agreements contingent on impossible events [Sec(36)]
(12)    Agreements to do impossible acts [Sec(56)]

Some discussions on void agreement are as follows:

(1)    Agreement by a Minor Or a Person of Unsound Mind-
A person who has not completed his or her 18 years of age signifies as minor. Law acts as the guardian of minors and protects their rights, because their mental facilities are not mature- they do not possess the capacity of judge what is good and what is bad for them. Accordingly, where is a minor charged with obligations and the other contracting party seeks to enforce those obligations against the minor, the agreement is deemed as void.

A person who does not possess a sound mind or whose mental powers are not arranged or whose mental condition is not under his or her own control. Any agreement by person of unsound mind is absolutely void because he has no capacity to judge, what is good and what is bad for him.

Illustration
(a)    A, 15 years old boy, made an agreement with B to give him Tk.1000. This is a void agreement.
(b)    A mentally disordered man made an agreement with X to marry her, but this is not a valid agreement.
 
(2) Agreement Made Without Consideration-
An agreement made without consideration is void, unless
1)    it is expressed in writing and registered under the law for the time being enforce for the registration of(documents), and is made on account of natural love and affection between parties standing in a near relation to each other; or unless.
2)    It is a promise to compensate, wholly or in part, a person who has already voluntarily done something for the promisor, or something which the promissory was legally compellable to do, or unless.
3)    It is a promise, made in writing and signed by the person to be charged therewith, or by his agent generally or specially authorized in the behalf, to pay wholly or in part a debt of which the creditor might have enforced payment but for the law for the limitation of suits.

In any of these cases, such an agreement is a contract.

Explanation 1–Nothing in this section shall affect the validity, as between the donor and donee, of any gift actually made.
Explanation 2- An agreement to which the consent of the promisor is freely given is not void merely because the consideration may be taken into account by the court in determining the question whether the consent of the promisor was freely given.

Illustrations
a)    A promises for no consideration, to give to B Rs. 1000; this is a void agreement.
b)    A, for natural, love and affection, promises to give his son, B Rs. 1000. A puts his promise to B into writing and registers it. This is a contract.
c)    A finds be B’s purse and gives it to him. B promises to give A Rs. 50. This is a contract.
d)    A supports B’s infant son. B promises to pay A’s expenses in so doing. This is a contract.  

(3) Agreements in Restraint of Marriage-
 Every individual enjoys the freedom to marry and so according to section 26 of the contract act “every agreement is restraint of the marriage of any person, other than a minor, is void.” The restraint may be general or partial but the agreement is void, and therefore, an agreement agreeing not to marry at all, or a certain person or, a class of persons, or for a fixed period, is void. However, an agreement restraint of the marriage of a minor is valid under the section.

It is interesting to note that a promise to marry a particular person does not imply any restraint of marriage and is, therefore, a valid contract.

This section enact that agreement in restraint of the marriage of any person, other than a minor is void. In the interest of the society, contracts for marriage are scrutinized with a close and vigilant suspicion of undue influence, fraud or imposition. The law presumes constrictive fraud, on grounds of public policy, in agreements respecting marriages since marriages of a suitable nature are of the deepest importance of the wellbeing of the society, as upon the equality and mutual affection much of their happiness, sound morality, and mutual confidence, hence every temptation of the exercise often undue influence, or a seductive interest in procuring a marriage is suppressed, for there is infinite danger that it may, under the guises of friendship, confidence, flattery or falsehood, accomplish the ruin of person especially females. So the law—
(a)    prevents improvident, ill-advised, and often fraudulent matches;
(b)    Avoid all such contracts as tend to the deceit and injury, or encourage artifices and improper attempts to control the exercise of free judgment;
(c)    Discountenances secret contracts made with prevents and guardians, whereby on a marriage, they to receive a benefits
(d)    Renders invalid certain agreements in restraint of marriage.

Illustrations
(a)    A agrees with B for good consideration that she will not marry C. It is a void agreement.
(b)    A agrees with B that she will marry him only; it is a valid contract of marriage.  

Void Agreement - 2
(4) Agreement in Restraint of Trade-
The constitution of India guarantees that the freedom of trade and commerce to every citizen and therefore section 27 declares “every agreement by which any one is restrained from exercising a lawful profession, trade or business of any kind, is to that extent void.” Thus no person is at livery to deprive himself of the fruit of his labor, skill or talent, by any contracts that he enters into.

It is to be noted that whether restraint is responsible or not, if it is in the nature of restraint of trade, the agreement is void always, subject to certain exceptions provided for statutorily.  

Illustration
An agreement whereby one of the parties agrees to close his business in consideration of the promise by the other party to pay a certain some of money , is void, being an agreement is restraint of trade, and the amount is not recoverable, if the other party fails to pay the promised some of money. (Mad hub Chander vs.  Raj Kumar).

But agreements merely restraining freedom of action necessary for the carrying on of business are not void, for the law does not intend to take away the right of a trade to regulate his business according to his own discretion and choice.

Illustration
An agreement to sell all produce to a certain party, with stipulation that the purchaser was bound to accept the whole quantity, was held valid because it aimed to promote business did not restrained it (Mackengie vs. Striramiah). But where in a similar agreement the purchaser was free to reject the goods (i.e. was not bound to accept the whole quantity tendered) it was held that the agreement was void as being in restraint of trade (Sheikh Kalu vs. Ram Saran)

(5) Agreement in restraint of legal proceedings-
Every agreement, by which any party thereto is restricted absolutely from enforcing his right under or in respect of any contract, by the usual legal proceedings in the ordinary tribunals, or which limits the time within which he may thus enforce his rights, is void to that extent. Section 28 declares the following two kinds of agreements void:
(a)    An agreement by which a party is restrained absolutely from taking usual legal
Proceeding, in respect of any rights arising from a contract.
(b)    An agreement which limits the time within which one may enforce his contract
Rights, without to the time allowed by the limitation act.

Illustration
In a contract of fire insurance, it was provided that if a claim is rejected and a suit is not filed within three months after such rejection, all benefits under the policy shell be forfeited. The provision was held valid and binding and the suit filed after three months was dismissed. (Baroda spinning Ltd. vs. Satyanarayan Marine and Fire Ins. Com. Ltd.)

Exception 1: This section shell not render illegal a contract by which two or more persons agree that any dispute which may arise between them in respect of any subject or class of subjects shell be referred to arbitration and that only the amount awarded in such arbitration shell be recoverable in respect of the dispute so referred.

Exception 2: Nor shell this section render illegal any contract in writing, by which two or more persons agree to refer to arbitration any question between them which has already arisen, or affect any provision of any law in force for the time being as to references to arbitration.

(6) Uncertain Agreements-
“Agreements, the meaning of which is not certain, or capable of being made certain, are void” (Sec-29). Through Sec-29 the law aims to ensure that the parties to a contract should be aware of the precise nature and scope of their mutual rights and obligation under the contract. Thus, if the word used by the parties are or indefinite, the law cannot enforce the agreement.

Illustration
(a)    A agrees to sell to B “a hundred tons of oil.” There is nothing whatever to show what kind of oil was intended. The agreement is void for uncertainty.
(b)    A who is dealer in coconut oil only, agrees to sell to B “a hundred tons if oil.” The nature of A’s trade affords an indication of the meaning of the words, and A has entered into a contract   for the sale of one hundred toms of coconut oil.
(c)    A agrees to sell to B “one thousand mounds of rice at a price to be fixed by C.” As the price is capable of being made certain, there is no uncertainty here to make the agreement void.
(d)    A agrees to sell to “his white house for rupees five hundred or rupees one thousand.” There is nothing to show which of the price was to be given. The agreement is void.

Further, an agreement “to enter into an agreement in future” is void for uncertainty unless all the terms of the proposed agreement are agreed expressly or implicitly. Thus, an agreement to engage a servant some time next year, at a salary to be mutually agreed upon is a void agreement.

(7) Wagering Agreement-
Literally the word ‘wager’ means ‘a bet’ something stated to be lost or won on the result of a doubtful issue, and, therefore, wagering agreements are nothing but ordinary betting agreements. Thus where A and B mutually agree that if it rains today A will pay B Tk.100 and if it does not rain B will pay A Tk.100 or C and D entered into agreement that on tossing up a coin, if it fall head upwards C will pay D Tk.50 and if falls tail upwards D will pay C Tk.50, there is a wagering agreement.

In Tracker vs. Hardy Cotton, L.J., described a ‘wager’ ad follows: “The essence of gaming and wagering is that one party is to win and the other to lose upon a future event which at the time of the contract is of an uncertain nature- that is to say, if the event turns out the other way he will win.”

Agreement by way of wager, void. Section 30 lays down that “agreements by way of wager are void; and no suit shell be brought for recovering anything alleged to be won on any wager, or entrusted to any person to abide the result of any game or other uncertain event on which any wager is made,” Thus, where A and B enter into an agreement which provides that if England’s cricket team wins the match, A will pay B Rs. 100, and if it loses B will pay Rs. 100 to A, nothing can be recovered by the winning party under the agreement, it being a wager. Similarly, whether C and D enter into a wagering agreement and each deposits Rs.100 with Z instructing him to pay or give the total sum to the winner, no suit can be brought by the winner for recovering the bet amount from Z, the stake-holder. Further, if Z had paid the sum to the winner, the looser   cannot bring a suit, for recovering his Rs.100, either against the winner or against, the stake-holder, even if Z had paid after the loser’s definite instructions not to pay. Of course the looser can recover back his deposit if he makes the demand before the stake-holder had paid it over to the winner (Ratnakalli vs. Vochalapu). But even such a deposit cannot be recovered by a loser in the States of Maharashtra and Gujarat where such an agreement is void and illegal.  

(8) Agreement Contingent on Impossible Events-
“Contingent agreements to do or not to do anything if an impossible event happens are void, whether the impossibility of the event is know on not to the parties to thr agreement at the time when it is made.” (Sec. 36)

Illustration
(a)    A agrees to pay B Rs.1000 (as a loan) if two straight line should enclosed a space. The agreement is void.
(b)    A agrees to pay B Rs.1000 (as a loan) if B will marry A’s daughter, C. C was dead at the time of the agreement, the agreement is void.

(9) Agreements to do Impossible Act-
“An agreement to do an act impossible in itself is void.” (Sec, 56 Part-1)

Illustration
(a)    A agrees with B to discover treasure by magic. The agreement is void. [Section 56].
(b)    A agrees with B to run with a speed of 100 Kilometer per hour. The agreement is void.