Thus far we have been dealing with the contract itself, and those elements in its formation which are essential to give it even a prima facie validity. Communication by offer and acceptance, and form or consideration, or, in some cases, both form and consideration, are necessary to every agreement that is to be considered by courts of law; but this is not all. When we have constructed an apparently binding contract, it is necessary, before we can pronounce finally upon its validity, to look to the parties to it, and ask who made it, under what circumstances, and with what object. In other words, we have to inquire whether the parties were capable of contracting, whether their apparent consent was genuine, and whether their object was legal.1 In this chapter we shall consider the question of the capacity of the parties.
Political Status - States and United States.
Foreign States and Sovereigns.
Infants - In General.
Time of Avoidance.
Effect of Ratification and Disaffirmance.
Insane Persons - In General.
Ratification and Avoidance.
1 See Anson, Cont. (4th Ed.) 102. Clabk Cont.(3d Ed.) - 12
81. Incapacity to contract may arise from the following causes:
(a) Political status. In this connection we will consider contracts by
(1) The United States or state governments;
(2) Foreign sovereigns or states, and their representatives;
(b) Professional status, as in the case of professional contracts by
(2) Physicians; and
(3) In some jurisdictions, other professional persons.
(c) Youth, as in the case of infants.
(d) Permanent or temporary mental aberration, as in the case of
(e) Merger of capacity, as in case of married women.
(f) Artificiality of construction, as in the case of corporations.