Research Paper

Jack should argue the many defenses he has to enforcement of an alleged agreement of purchase with Jill.

Firstly, there are many concerns about Jack’s capacity to enter into a binding agreement. Jack is a minor and can legally enter a contractual agreement. His age however may be enough to defend enforcement and to successfully disaffirm his contract that was signed between Jack and Jill for most items. If however the contractual promises involve necessaries such as food, clothing, shelter, or medical care he may not be able to disaffirm and escape his obligations. If a minor enters a contract for an unnecessary or luxury item this contract probably can be disaffirmed. The rules of law indicate that he may be able to disaffirm up until the date of his 18th birthday or a reasonable time after.

Relating to Jack’s minority status, it is notable that Jill and Jack (who is not old enough to drink legally) were sharing alcoholic drinks. Since Jack was arguably intoxicated from alcohol, he may not have been able to make a reasonable decision about the purchase of a vehicle and if intoxicated enough may be able to argue as a defense that he lacked capacity to contract with Jill. If involuntarily intoxicated Jack would have an even stronger defense to enforcement.

Because Jill previously worked as Jack’s lawyer, she was (and is arguably still) in a position of power or trust in Jack’s life. Coming from a position of legal confidence, it may be argued that Jill is exerting undue influence on Jack in order to sell her car to him and that Jill was using her position in Jack’s life to take advantage of him and benefit from his misfortune. This exertion of undue influence may render both the contract of sale and the arbitration agreement voidable if Jack is successful in asserting his defenses.

In addition to concerns about the exercise of undue influence, it is apparent that this agreement was entered into under duress meeting the definition of use or threat of force to induce the contract. During negotiations in this case the facts suggest that Jill acted aggressively and especially if using physical force or threats of physical force intimidated Jack into an acceptance at the same time agreed to by Jack while he was under duress perhaps making the contract voidable.

The conditions surrounding proof of mutual assent between Jack and Jill are already grim, but there are also other problems with the formation of the contract itself. Jill would have to prove offer and mirror image acceptance, consideration, Jack’s capacity and a legal subject matter. While Jill originally offered to sell her car for $20,000 the contract ultimately was for sale at $23,000. This arguably violates the mirror-image rule of contract acceptance and therefore should be considered a counter offer. Counter offers refer to any small changes that are made compared to the original offer. For an acceptance to be legally binding, the acceptance should be identical to the counter offer. Otherwise, it is both a rejection which terminates the offer and at the same time another [new counter] offer.

Although there are many issues with the agreement between Jack and Jill, Jill does have some legal arguments to uphold the contract and protect her position.



Jill’s can argue that the agreement of arbitration between Jill and Jack should prevent this case from being presented to a court of law for a decision by a judge or jury.

Jill modified the offered price after some negotiation with Jack and after Jack’s counter-offer including professional cleaning services. Jack’s counter-offer shows definite and serious intent (required to prove an offer) to purchase the vehicle. The next day, after having some time to consider the agreement and contract of sale, Jack paid the $23,000 for the car. This may undermine any claims by Jack of intoxication or incapacity – the time interval undermining the defenses. Additionally, the parol evidence rule might prevent Jack from testifying about the initial $20,000 offer since this was an oral negotiation that arguably became part of the final agreement and sale. In any case the requirement of consideration for each of their promises — defined as a bargained for exchange of value – is evident.

It does appear that the parties’ negotiations resulted in both an offer and an acceptance with each of their promises supported by consideration. The offer contains the essential terms identifying the parties, the subject (the car), the price, the quantify and a time for performance. The proposed sale and acceptance of the car is for a lawful (legal) subject matter – no law against a private sale of an automobile.

Jill could also counter any claims of duress or undue influence. Although she spoke passionately during negotiations, she could argue that she did not act violently toward Jack. It can also be argued that because she is no longer Jack’s lawyer, she is therefore no longer in a position of trust and confidence with regard to Jack and therefore that there was no undue influence.

This case has many issues including an offeree’s capacity as an intoxicated minor, violation of the mirror image rule, the Parol evidence rule, and defenses to formation of an agreement if acceptance was the result of undue influence or duress. If I were presented this case as a judge, I would conclude that Jack should not be bound to the contract because he entered the agreement as a minor, under duress by a person exercising undue influence, while drunk. While Jill’s claims do have some merit, they may not be enough to overcome the defenses that may be presented in this case.

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