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Chapter

Cover Koffman, Macdonald & Atkins' Law of Contract

22. Additional chapter: Capacity  

This chapter considers the scope of contractual capacity, noting the tension in the law between the need to protect someone who is incapacitated and the desire to not treat too harshly the person dealing fairly with the incapacitated person. The general rule is that a minor will not be bound by a contract, although the person contracting with them will be. There are exceptions which will bind both parties unless the minor repudiates, and on becoming 18 a minor may ratify a contract made before that date. The law recognizes the general incapacity to contract of minors, the mentally incapacitated, and in certain circumstances where an individual is intoxicated. An adult of sound mind has full contractual capacity, although they may be able to claim that the contract is not enforceable on some other basis, for example undue influence.

Chapter

Cover Mental Health Law: Policy and Practice

4. The Mental Capacity Act 2005  

This chapter begins with an overview of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA 2005) followed by a discussion of the principles of the MCA 2005. It then explains the meaning of incapacity and best interests as defined in the MCA 2005,s and considers the provisions for advance decisions regarding treatment.

Chapter

Cover JC Smith's The Law of Contract

21. Capacity  

This chapter discusses the issue of capacity. The general rule is that contracts are valid but unenforceable on minors (persons under 18 years of age). However, they are enforceable against adults, and a minor can ratify a contract upon attaining the age of majority so that the contract is enforceable against both parties. At common law, mental incapacity is not by itself a reason to set aside a contract. But if the other party knows, or ought to know, of the mental incapacity, then the contract can be set aside. The Mental Capacity Act 2005 makes it clear that a person who lacks capacity must still pay a reasonable price for necessary goods and services.

Chapter

Cover Complete Criminal Law

6. Defences of incapacity and mental conditions  

This chapter examines the use of incapacity and mental condition defences for criminal offences in England and Wales. It discusses the general principles of the excusatory defence of insanity and of automatism as distinct from diminished responsibility and explores the notion that insanity is out of date and unrelated to contemporary classifications of mental illness. It considers whether insanity can be pleaded for all crimes and explains that intoxication will rarely reduce criminal liability. It explains and clarifies the Majewski rule and how it works. It also considers intoxicated mistake. The chapter evaluates arguments for and against the age of criminal responsibility and analyses court decisions in relevant cases.

Chapter

Cover Cassese's International Criminal Law

12. Justifications and excuses  

Antonio Cassese, Paola Gaeta, Laurel Baig, Mary Fan, Christopher Gosnell, and Alex Whiting

This chapter discusses the notions of justifications and excuse. Circumstances can sometimes arise that either justify criminal conduct, or excuse the perpetrator for engaging in it. A justification is a circumstance that makes the accused’s conduct preferable to even worse alternatives. Among the circumstances that negate unlawfulness of what would otherwise be a criminal act are: self-defence; necessity (as justification); and belligerent reprisals (for war crimes). An excuse, such as duress, involves an action that, while voluntary, nevertheless was produced by an impairment of a person’s autonomy to such a degree as to negate their blameworthiness. Mistakes of law, mental incapacity, or intoxication are also usually categorized as excuses, although strictly speaking, these are cognitive impairments that preclude the formation of a guilty mental state in the first place.