Normally contracts may be made in any form, orally or in writing. However, there are certain contracts which require a particular form otherwise they are unenforceable. Leases or contracts between a landlord and tenant for apartments for rent Jamaica are a prime example of contracts that must be written to be enforceable.

Infants (minors)

A person is an infant and does not become an adult or attain full contractual capacity until the age of eighteen. Contracts made by an infant may be classified as valid, voidable and void. This means that an infant CANNOT enter into a lease for commercial property for rent in Jamaica.

Valid contracts

(i) Contracts for necessaries – An infant is bound to pay for necessaries that have been supplied to him.

(ii) Beneficial contracts of service – An infant may bind himself by a contract of apprenticeship or of service because it is to his advantage that he should acquire a means of supporting himself. Each contract of service Estate sale services, however, must be examined as a whole to see whether it is substantially for the benefit of the infant.

Voidable contracts

If an infant enters into a contract the subject matter of which is a continuous obligation, the contract is voidable. This means that the contract is valid unless he or she can repudiate it during his infancy or within a fair amount of time of reaching his majority. Examples of contracts of continuous nature are:

(i) If an infant enters into a lease, he is liable for the rent until he repudiates the contract in accordance with the rules.

(ii) If an infant buys shares in a firm or stock exchange company he is liable to pay calls until he repudiates the contract.

(iii) If an infant enters into a contract to become a partner in a firm, the rules are slightly different. During his infancy he is not liable to pay debts out of his personal assets, although they be discharged out of his share of the partnership assets until he repudiates the contract.

Void Contracts

So far, we have dealt with the situations where an infant may be bound by a contract. It should follow that if the contract did not fall within one of the heads outlined above the infant would be totally free from liability. The law, however, is very confused and uncertain.

The following contracts are absolutely void:

1. Contracts for full repayment of monies loaned or to be loaned

All loans of money made to an infant are irrecoverable and any security given by the infant for repayment. For example, a mortgage of shares is void.

2. Contracts for the supply of goods other than necessaries;

Although the act provides that such contracts are absolutely void, it is clear from case law that such contracts do have some effect.

3. All matters listed with young adults and infants, that is, an admission by an infant that he owes a certain sum.

Infants and tort

It is not possible to sue an infant in tort, where this would be an indirect method of enforcing a contract against him.

Insane Persons

Contracts entered into by an insane person are voidable at his option if he can prove:

(a) He was insane at the time of making the contract and was incapable of understanding the nature of the contract; and

(b) The other party knew that he was insane at the time of contracting.

Despite the presence of (a) and (b) above, an insane person is liable to pay a reasonable price for necessary goods.

There is precedent for Jamaica homes for rent by insane people and then upon eviction it is revealed that the tenant was of unsound mind and the contract and all monies owed were made void.

Contracts which must be by deed

(a) Promises not supported by consideration

(b) Conveyances of land, legal mortgages of land and leases for more than three years

(c) Transfers of British ships or shares in British ships;

(d) Conditional bills of sale.


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