What Are the Differences Between a Void Contract and a Voidable Contract?

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Serious mature man sitting on couch analyzing contractA contract is an agreement between private parties that creates mutual legal obligations. There are four fundamental elements necessary to make a contract legally enforceable: mutual assent, adequate consideration, capacity, and legality.

The terms “void contract” and “voidable contract” may sound similar, but these two types of contracts are entirely different. A void contract cannot be enforced by either party. From a legal standpoint, it is as if the contract had never been created. A voidable contract, on the other hand, can be enforced. However, a voidable contract typically requires only one of the parties to be bound by the terms of the contract. The “unbound” party may cancel a voidable contract at any time, rendering it void.

Given that a void contract is unenforceable, it should come as no surprise that if one party breaches the contract, the other party can’t recover anything. Factors making a void contract “void” include:

  • The contract focuses on illegal activities like gambling, prostitution, or drug dealing
  • The contract excessively restricts the rights of one party, such as the right to marry a person of one’s own choosing or the right to work
  • The contract requires one party to accomplish tasks or perform duties that are utterly impossible

Factors that frequently make a contract voidable include:

  • One of the parties to the contract is a minor
  • The contract contains elements of deceit, fraud, or other types of trickery
  • The contract was created when one of the parties was intoxicated, of unsound mind, or otherwise incapacitated

Perhaps you are interested in entering into a contract with another party? Or maybe you are already party to an existing contract that you think is void or voidable? Our experienced Washington, D.C. contracts attorney can answer all of your questions and design a contract that is both valid and capable of accomplishing your goals. We invite you to call the Law Offices of Clifford M. Cohen at (202) 895-2799 to schedule a meeting. We can meet in-person at our office or virtually via Zoom and other platforms.