A void contract is one that is no longer enforceable under law. With a void contract, the parties are no longer bound by whatever contractual duties are required of them in the agreement. There are some circumstances that make a contract immediately void by operation of law. For instance, if illegal subject matter was the focus of the contract, the contract is void and unenforceable. Or, if the contract is unfair in such a way that violates public policy, the contract is void.
Other types of void contract situations include a contract that was entered into by someone not competent to make legal decisions, and contracts whose execution depends on an event or condition that is actually impossible to fulfill.
Also, there are some situations that might make a contract voidable upon discovery of certain factors. This means that the contract is not void yet, but can become void at the election of the non-violating party. That is, the parties will still be bound to their contract duties. However, if the one party chooses to have the contract voided, they will be released from their contractual obligations. This also means that they will have to forfeit whatever benefits or profits they would have obtained from the contract.
Examples of situations that make a contract voidable include: one party was underage at the time of contract formation; or, the contract was entered into solely as a result of misrepresentation or fraud.
If you suspect that a contract that you are dealing with needs to be voided, you may wish to take certain steps. These include:
- Reviewing the contract to understand which terms or factors might be making it invalid
- Determine the basic reason why the contract should be void (for instance, it was formed when the other party was drunk; it requires one party to commit a crime, and so forth)
- Begin collecting documents and information that can help support your reasoning voiding the contract.
- Begin thinking about whether a new contract needs to be formed, or you wish to simply abandon the agreement efforts altogether
Lastly, you should understand that each state may have slightly different laws when it comes to contracts and other business matters. This is because each state has different laws that regulate commerce, and each state has unique commercial needs. Remember that if you choose to void a contract, neither party will be able to benefit from the exchange that would have occurred through the contract.
The assistance of a qualified lawyer is usually necessary when attempting to void a contract. You may wish to hire a contract lawyer for help with void contracts and other matters. Your attorney can help represent you during trial. Also, it’s helpful to hire a lawyer early on in the process, so they can assist with tasks like contract review and drafting, and negotiations.