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UNIVERSITY OF GHANA LAW JOURNAL

TOWARDS A UNIFORM AGE OF MAJORITY IN GHANA: RETHINKING THE


CONTRACTUAL CAPACITY OF MINORS
Christine Dowuona-Hammond

*
INTRODUCTION
The law regulating the contractual capacity of persons below the age
of 21 years in Ghana is largely outdated and fraught with
inconsistencies: This is perhaps hardly surprising, in view of the fact
that most of the applicable rules date back several centuries, and were
thus influenced by social and economic standards which have no
relevance to today's modern society. What is surprising, is the fact that
very little has been done to reform this aspect of the law inspite of its
far-reaching economic implications. The need for careful reflection in
the design and review of the law on contractual capacity is even more
urgent in this country because of the relatively high percentage of the
population aged between 15 and 21 years."137 In view of the need to
encourage maximum participation in the economy, it is clearly
counterproductive to maintain outdated rules, which deny legal
significance to the activities of such a significant portion of the
population.
The task of monitoring or limiting contractual capacity on the basis of
age involves the making of difficult choices between two equally
legitimate and competing policies: that of protecting those who lack
capacity and that of safeguarding the expectation and reliance
interests of adult parties who deal fairly with minors. In seeking to
achieve an acceptable balance, the law must tread the fine line
between protecting the incompetent and incapacitating the competent
through "protection". In other words, the extent of legal protection
granted must be enough to shield the young and vulnerable from the
pitfalls of the marketplace, while at the same time ensuring that their
freedom of contract is not unduly stifled by the zeal to protect. In
Ghana, a minor, for purposes of contractual liability, is a person, aged
below 21 years. A person below this age is deemed by the law to be
incapable of creating binding contractual obligations 138 or
representing himself in civil litigation. 139 The plea of minority thus
constitutes a complete defence to any class of contracts entered into

by minors, with the exception of contracts for "necessaries" and other


categories of contracts, which are treated as voidable because they
create long term relations involving property rights.
An overview of the law on the capacity of minors in Ghana gives a
distinct impression of overprotection and overindulgence in favour of
minors. This may in fact be a mixed blessing, particularly for those who
are just below the age of 21 years and actively engaged in business
activities for a living. Questions arise as to what extent the present
state of the law reflects actual business practice or serves the business
interests of minors. On average, a great percentage of persons aged
roughly between ages 18 and 21 years in modern Ghanaian society,
are likely to be enrolled in an institution of higher learning or engaged
in some form of employment or business activity, having completed
basic education. For persons in this age group the "protection" offered
by the law, for the most part, translates into overprotection, since they
would benefit greatly from the legal recognition of their competence.
Clearly, it cannot be in the interest of economic development to allow
young persons, almost 21 years of age and actively involved in
business, to renounce their contractual obligations at will and cause
loss to innocent adult parties who transact business with them in good
faith. The average adult trader in Ghana may be surprised to learn for
example, that a trading contract entered into with a person below the
age of 21 years cannot be enforced against him in any way, no matter
how beneficial its terms may be to the minor trader. 140 This rule,
which dates back to over two and a half centuries ago, clearly has no
place in today's legal framework for business.
One of the fundamental challenges for the law is the fixing of the age
of majority for purposes of contract at a point, which easily justifies the
extent of protection provided. The issue of the age of majority under
the general law is by no means a settled or straightforward matter. The
Constitution of Ghana adopts the age limit of 18 years in its definition
of a "child", whilst the Interpretation Act, 141 in its definition of
"infant" maintains the age limit of 21 years. On the whole, the age of
majority differs from statute to statute, depending on the purpose for
which it is stipulated. An overview of a range of statutes dealing with
the rights and powers of young persons however, reveals a definite
trend towards adopting 18 years as the age of maturity for various
purposes. What is needed therefore, is an in depth examination of the
regulatory rules on the minor's contractual capacity to ascertain
whether the law as it stands accords with modern legislative trends
and economic realities.
The aim of this note is to conduct a brief overview of the rules on the
contractual capacity of minors in Ghana and highlight their implications

for the economic development objectives of modern society. The note


also discusses the need for a review of the age of majority, in view of
recent legislative trends and prevailing social and economic conditions
and strongly recommends that the age of majority for contractual
purposes be reduced from 21 years to 18 years.
Liability of Minors In Contract
The policy objectives, which govern the regulation of the contractual
capacity of minors were noted by an American court over a century
ago, when it Stated:142
A protracted struggle has been maintained in the courts, on the one
hand, to protect infants or minors from their own improvidence and
folly, and to save them from the depredations and frauds practised
upon them by the designing and unprincipled, and on the other to
protect the rights of those dealing with them in good faith and on the
assumption that they could lawfully make contracts.
These two objectives have motivated the common law to confer on
minors absolute immunity from contractual liability, except in the case
of "necessaries"143 and "voidable" contracts which are binding on the
minor only upon ratification or in the absence of repudiation. An
examination of the applicable rules, however, reveals a bias in favour
of minors, which is not always easy to justify. To a large extent the law
fails to give sufficient priority to the policy concern of protecting the
legitimate interests of adults who transact business with minors.
In protecting minors from full contractual responsibility, the law has
always sought to preserve the minor's own interests by making an
exception in the case of contracts for the provision of the essential
necessities of life. Even though the law recognises the minor's liability
for "necessaries", earlier judicial opinion seemed to suggest that his
liability in this respect is not really contractual, but merely quasicontractual. 144The practical implication of this is that the minor would
not be liable on a contract for necessaries if it were merely executory.
145 This position is based on the premise that the minor, like a lunatic,
has no capacity at all to create contractual obligations, but is only
liable on a quasi-contractual basis, for necessaries actually delivered to
him. 146 Support for this position has been drawn from the fact that
the infant is only statutorily bound to pay a reasonable price for goods
delivered and not necessarily the contract price. 147
The position that the minor's liability for necessaries is strictly quasicontractual, appears difficult to support. The fact that the minor is only
bound to pay a reasonable price does not, of itself, exclude the

possibility of the minor's liability being contractual. The rule could


simply derive from the universal principle that a contract of any kind is
not binding on a minor unless its terms are beneficial to him. 148 In
practice the interests of adult contracting parties would be unduly
prejudiced if the minor's liability, even for necessaries, were negated
simply because the contract remained executory. Further, the case law
shows that this position does not apply in the case of beneficial
contracts for service, which are in a broad sense also considered as
contracts for necessaries. 149 It is not clear why the distinction should
be made in the case of necessaries, which are goods if the principle
governing the nature of the minor's liability is the same.
A contract entered into by a minor under which he learns a trade,
acquires some training or instruction for a profession is generally
binding on the minor as long as its terms are substantially to his
benefit. 150 Here the law widens the definition of "necessaries" to
include education, training or instruction in a trade or profession which
are as essential for the infant's survival and economic wellbeing as
food, shelter and clothing. 151 The courts have been prepared to
extend the scope of this category of contracts to include contracts,
which allow the minor to earn a living through the exercise of a
profession or occupation, whether as an athlete, entertainer or through
the practice of any other professional skills. 152 However, it remains a
mandatory precondition for the infant's liability that the terms of the
contract must, on the whole, be to the minor's advantage.
The overly protective nature of the law on contractual capacity
requires reconsideration in view of the possible effect of excluding
minors from specific areas of commercial activity which would
otherwise be beneficial to them. The adoption of an approach which
consistently defeats the legitimate expectations of adults who transact
business with minors, could discourage them from dealing with minors,
to the minor's own disadvantage. This is particularly so with respect to
those who may be just below the age of majority, but involved in
activities which necessitate the making of contracts, such as those for
educational loans, insurance or for the conduct of professional
activities as athletes, entertainers, etc. In Ghana, a specific provision in
the Students Loan Scheme Law 153 has had to be introduced to enable
students below the age of 21 years to participate in the students' loan
scheme, while at the same time ensuring that the contractual
obligation of repayment is binding on them. The statute ensures this by
stipulating that any student who participates in the scheme shall be
conclusively presumed to be a person of full age, whether or not he is
in fact of full age. 154 In the absence of legislation to protect the
interests of the adult party, the existing rules could have a deterring
effect on business activity by reducing the volume of transactions,

which could otherwise be conducted with competent persons who


happen to be classified as minors.
Trading Contracts
Curiously, the principle of liability based on benefit to the minor, which
applies to a minor's contracts of service, does not extend to trading
contracts. Trading contracts of a minor do not qualify as necessaries,
and are therefore not enforceable against him, no matter how
beneficial the terms may be to him. 155 Thus a minor trader cannot be
sued for the non-delivery of goods he has contracted to sell or for the
payment of the price of goods delivered to him for purposes of trade.
156 This rule denotes that if the minor chooses to enter into any
occupation other than trading, contracts entered into in furtherance of
that objective are binding on him as long as the terms are substantially
to his benefit. If he chooses to earn a living by trading however, the
law raises an absolute bar to liability, leaving the adult party with no
remedy whatsoever, even where the terms of the contract are fair and
beneficial to the minor trader. It is difficult to appreciate what
economic reasons justify the special status accorded to trading
contracts when it comes to enforceability.
The rule on trading contracts is likely to be counter productive in
effect, considering that a significant percentage of young persons in
this country aged just below 21 years are likely to be engaged in
trading of some kind for a living. The denial of legal significance to the
business contracts of such persons is most unlikely to further their
interests. It is obvious that such persons would benefit greatly if
allowed to organize their trading activities and safeguard their
business interests through the making of binding contractual
agreements. It must be noted that in communities such as fishing
communities, which are characterised predominantly by small scale
trading young persons tend to engage in trading activities for a living
at a relatively early age. The social realities in such areas would seem
to dictate a reconsideration of the rule, since no purpose is served by
disabling a majority of such young traders from assuming legal
responsibility for their contractual and trading transactions.
Voidable Contracts
In contracts under which the minor acquires an interest in a subject
matter of a permanent nature which gives rise to continuous
obligations, minority does not constitute a complete bar to liability,
even though the minor is allowed to repudiate the contract under
specific circumstances. 157 The minor is bound by the contract if he
does not divest himself of liability by repudiating the contract during

his minority or within a reasonable period after he has attained


majority. 158 In Ghana, contracts, which are voidable in this sense
include lease contracts, contracts affecting land or immovable
property, contracts for the acquisition of shares in a company and
marriage settlements159. For such contracts the law appears to be
more stringent in holding the minor liable for the legal consequences of
the contract he has entered into for as long as he maintains it. Where
the minor repudiates the contract, he is not ordinarily entitled to avoid
liability for obligations, which have already arisen under the contract,
even though he is no longer liable for future obligations under the
contract. 160 The minor is also not entitled, upon repudiation, to claim
money or property transferred to the other party under such a
contract, unless he can establish a complete failure of consideration
161
The issue could arise as to whether the common law position on the
minor's liability on a conveyance or lease has been rendered
inapplicable in our law by virtue of the provision in section 12(2) of the
Conveyancing Decree, 1973.(N.R.C.D. 175) which provides that:
The persons expressed to be parties to a conveyance shall, until the
contrary is proved, be presumed to be of full age and capacity at the
date thereof.
The provision clearly presumes that parties to a conveyance are of full
age. It is submitted, however, that its wording does not lead to the
inescapable conclusion that where a party is shown to be a minor he is
deemed automatically to lack capacity to enter into the conveyance.
162 The more likely interpretation appears to be that where it is proved
that a party to a conveyance is a minor, the question of the extent of
his or her liability would have to be determined in accordance with the
general common law rule as Stated above. In other words the infant
would be bound by the conveyance unless and until he takes steps to
repudiate it 163
Tortious Liability of Minors
Generally, a minor is fully liable for his torts, whether it is conversion,
trespass or deceit. 164 He is however not liable for a tort if it is shown
that by reason of age, he lacks the required State of mind to
appreciate the nature and consequences of his act. 165 The scope of
application of the minor's tortious liability is greatly diminished by the
overriding principle that an infant cannot be held liable for a tort, if to
do so would amount to enforcing an otherwise unenforceable contract
made by him. In other words, even though a minor is generally liable

for his torts, in order to safeguard the protection granted to minors in


contract, the courts will not allow an adult plaintiff to enforce a
contractual obligation against the minor by framing his action in tort.
166 Thus even where the infant induced the adult party to contract
with him by fraudulently misrepresenting his age or some other vital
fact, an action in deceit would not lie against the minor since it would
amount to the enforcement of the otherwise unenforceable contract.
167 The courts therefore have to decide, on the facts of each case,
whether the tort committed by the minor is so directly connected to
the contract that to allow the action in tort would deprive the infant of
his protection or immunity from contractual liability.
Equity however intervenes in cases where the contract is tainted by
fraud on the part of the minor, to provide some respite for the adult
party who has been induced to contract with the minor to his
detriment. The principal tool employed by equity to achieve fairness in
such cases is the doctrine of restitution, which operates on the
universal principle that a person should not be allowed to profit from
his own fraud or wrongdoing, no matter his age. 168 Where a minor is
guilty of fraudulent behaviour, the doctrine of equitable restitution
requires that the benefits gained by him through such fraud be
disgorged, provided they are still in his possession. A minor cannot
however be compelled to refund the benefits gained from a
fraudulently induced contract if he has parted with possession of the
goods or money thus acquired. 169
Even where the minor is guilty of fraud, the equitable intervention does
not fully protect the expectation interests of adult contracting parties.
Where a minor fraudulently induces an adult to grant him a loan, the
adult party cannot rely on the doctrine of equitable restitution to
recover the amount except in the unlikely event that the minor still has
in his possession the identical notes and coins received from the
lender. 170 This position empties the remedy of almost all its practical
content. The rule seems to ensure that an adult party can seldom
recover the money owed and is further disabled from recovering any
property purchased with the money borrowed under false pretences.
Since the essence of granting a loan is the expectation of being repaid
the equivalent sum, and not the identical notes, it is difficult to
understand why a mode of redress aimed at depriving the minor of the
benefits of his fraud should stop short at compelling him to refund the
amount from alternative sources.
Ensuring Fairness for Both Parties

Apart from contracts for necessaries, for which the minor assumes full
responsibility, and voidable contracts for which the minor is liable in
the absence of repudiation, no other contract entered into by a minor
is in any way binding on him unless he ratifies it upon attaining
majority. Thus contracts entered into by a minor with an adult party,
for the purchase of non-necessary goods or services, for a loan of
money, or for the hiring or purchase of goods for the infant's trade are
not in any way enforceable against the minor. 171 In practical terms,
this means that even where an adult party has already performed his
side of the contract, he has no means of recovering money or property
transferred to the infant under such an unenforced contract. Thus, a
20- year old student who has obtained expensive video recording
equipment on hire-purchase or on credit from an adult supplier could
renounce the contract with impunity and refuse to pay for it without
incurring any liability whatsoever. What is more, the adult party has no
legal right to compel the minor to pay for it or sue to recover the
equipment. The law in such cases places an intolerable burden on the
adult contracting party, who to all intents and purposes, is deemed to
transact business with minors at his own peril. Even though as
between the adult party and the minor, the burden should rest with the
former on policy grounds, it is important to ensure that the policy
objective of protecting the vulnerable in society is not achieved at too
great a cost.
An acceptable balance could be achieved through the doctrine of
restitution. The courts could be granted the discretion to order either
party to return to the other whatever has been obtained under the
unenforceable contract where it would be fair and reasonable to do so.
172 It is suggested that greater equity would be achieved if an adult
party, who has partially performed his obligations under an otherwise
unenforceable contract, were allowed to recover from the minor any
money or property transferred to him under the contract. For example,
in the case of trading contracts where the adult party has already paid
for goods which the minor has failed or refused to deliver, the former
should have some recourse to the law to recover what he has paid or
property representing it. 173 Such discretion would enable the courts,
in appropriate cases, to protect the interests of the adult party who has
dealt with the minor in good faith.
Conversely, the court's discretion could also be exercised to allow the
minor who decides to repudiate a contract, to recover money paid or
property transferred to the adult party, where it would be fair and
reasonable to do so. 174 To ensure fairness in each case, the courts
could be given the latitude to vary the original terms of the contract
and impose additional terms in making such recovery or restitution
orders. For example, the court could be empowered to fix more flexible

terms for the repayment of a loan granted to a minor under an


otherwise unenforceable contract.

Harmonising the Position on the Age of Majority: Recent


Trends
The traditional rules, which regulate contractual capacity in Ghana,
provide extensive protection for persons below the age of 21 years. A
review of the rules and their implications, however, raises the question
whether the State of the law is reflective of actual practice, and
whether the overindulgence of the law in favour of minors fully serves
their interests. The issue also arises as to whether the extent of
protection granted could be better justified if the age of majority were
reduced to 18 years.
Some indication of the general view of who should be entitled to
protection under the law on grounds of immaturity, could be gleaned
from the position adopted in various statutes. An examination of a
number of statutory provisions, governing the minor's right to
participate in the electoral process, 175 to acquire a driving licence for
a private vehicle, 176to make a will, 177 to be maintained by his
parents, 178 and to be protected from child labour, 179 reveals that
the age of majority adopted is consistently lower than that which
applies to the minor's contractual capacity and liability. It is also
significant to note that the most recent statute enacted to protect the
rights of children on a wide range of issues, the Children's Act, 1998
(Act 560), defines a child for its purposes, as a person below the age of
18 years. 180
Increasingly, the legislative trend appears to be towards treating
persons of 18 years as being of full maturity and thus qualified to
assume responsibility in important aspects of social and political life. In
this regard, it is important to note that the Constitution of Ghana
considers a person of 18 years or more, to be eligible to participate in
the electoral process, deening him sufficiently mature to responsibly
exercise the right of selecting persons to political office. Further, the
Local Government Act, 181 allows the levying of rates on persons of or
above the age of 18 years, unless such persons are enrolled in an
educational institution and not gainfully employed. It is puzzling that in
spite of this trend, the law still maintains that a person aged between
18 and 21 years, is by virtue of immaturity of judgement, incapable of
voluntarily assuming contractual liability, except for the acquisition of
the very basic necessities of life.

There are also other perhaps less overt indications in the Constitution
which seem to support the contention that the State considers its
protective function to be generally limited to persons aged 18 years or
younger. In Article 14(1)(C), the Constitution States, with regard to the
protection of the right of personal liberty, that depriving a person
below the age of 18 years of his personal liberty for the purpose of
education or welfare would not constitute a violation of his
fundamental right. This would seem to suggest that the State's duty to
protect or sanction the protection of the young persons for their own
welfare extends to persons aged up to 18 years, but not normally
beyond that. It is also significant to note that the right of a young
person to be legally protected from exploitative work that endangers
his health, education or development also applies to persons below the
age of 18 years. 182 Equally significant is the legislative position on
the cut-off age of the child with regard to the parental duty of
maintenance. The Children's Act 183 stipulates that the duty of a
parent to maintain his child continues until the child attains the age of
18 years, except in situations where the child is still enrolled in an
educational institution and not gainfully employed, in which case the
duty could extend beyond that. 184
With regard to certain powers of considerable magnitude and
significance, the legislative consensus appears to be that a person of
18 years and older is capable of exercising the judgement and
discretion required. Significant examples include the power to make a
will to determine the mode of distribution of a person's self acquired
property and the right to obtain a driver's licence for a private vehicle.
185 Further, the law stipulates that the minimum age for marriage is
18 years, 186 signifying paradoxically, that an eighteen year old
person is considered mature enough to get married, but incapable of
assuming responsibility for his contractual indiscretions.
In view of this emerging trend a strong case can be made for the
reduction of the present age of majority for contractual purposes to 18
years. This is desirable, not only to ensure the harmonisation of the
law, but is even more urgent in view of the extent of protection
granted under the present State of the law on contractual capacity. In
short, such protection translates to overprotection for persons who are
closer to the age of majority. For such persons, the strict limitations
imposed on their contractual capacity is difficult to justify, and tends to
be unduly restrictive of their freedom to contract and participate fully
in business activity.
CONCLUSION

The law on the contractual capacity of minors, and the choice of 21


years as the age below which persons are deemed incompetent to
create binding contractual relations, date back several centuries. Even
though broadly speaking the policy concerns on which the law is based
are still relevant, the "infancy doctrine" seems to have lost some of its
appeal in today's modern and sophisticated society, particularly with
regard to persons aged just below the 21 year limit. The recent
legislative trend seems to suggest that the maintenance of the magical
age of 21 years as an indication of maturity for contractual purposes, is
anachronistic and can no longer be supported by fact or public policy.
It is suggested that a reduction of the age of majority for contractual
purposes to 18 years would greatly reduce the apparent inequities and
anomalies associated with the law on contractual capacity as it stands
now. It is also proposed that a review of specific aspects of the law is
needed to ensure better protection for the expectation and reliance
interests of adult parties who deal fairly with minors. In this regard it is
suggested that the law should be made more flexible, by granting the
courts greater discretion in ensuring fairness to both parties as long as
there is no evidence of overreaching on the part of the adult party.
A review of the law in this direction would grant young competent
persons aged between 18 and 21 years, greater autonomy in the
management of their business affairs, thus encouraging maximum
participation in the economy, for the benefit of all. For the law on
contractual capacity to be relevant to the day to day organization of
business in this country, it must reflect new economic and social
trends. In this regard, legal recognition should not be withheld from
those who may fall just below the age of 21 years, but are actively
engaged in significant business activity. The reconsideration of the age
of majority for purposes of contract and the review of the specific rules
on capacity identified in this paper, would help to ensure that the law
better performs its promotional role by reflecting business trends and
developments in modern Ghanaian society.
FOOTNOTES
*LL.B (Gh). LL.M (Mich): Lecturer, Faculty of Law, University of Ghana.
137. The 1984 Population Census indicated that 59% of the population
was aged below the age of 21 years.
138. See, Section 32 of Interpretation Act, 1960, C.A. 4. [In England,
the age of majority has been reduced to 18 years by section 1 of the
Family Reform Act of 1969].

139. See, High Court Procedure Rules, 1954 (LN 140N, Order 16 Rules
14. 18 &19). See also, First Ghana Building Society v. Addy [1982-83]
G. L. R. 1089.
140. Cowern v. Nield [1912] 2 K.B. 419. 422: Lowe v. Griffiths (1835) 1
Scott 458: Re Jones ex. P. Jones (1881) 18 Ch. D. 120
141. See, Article 28(5) of the Constitution & section 32 of the
Interpretation Act, 1960 C.A. 4.
142. See, Henry v. Root 33 N.Y. 526, 538 (1865).
143. Necessaries" are defined in section 2(3) of the Sale of Goods Act.
1962 (Act 137) as "goods and services suitable to the condition in life
of the person to whom they are delivered and to his actual
requirements at the time of delivery". See also: Chappel v. Cooper
(1844) 13 M & W 252. 258 (per Alderson B).
144. See Miles (1927) 43 L.Q.R. 389. where the writer observes that
there are no decided cases in which the courts recognised an infant's
liability in an executory contract for necessaries, which are goods. See
also Cheshire, Fifoot and Firmston's Law of Contract. 13th ed (1991). pp
430-1.
145. See, Pontypridd Union v. Drew [1927] 1 K.B. 214. 220.
146. See, per Fletcher Moulton LJ. in Nash v. Inman [1908] 2 K.B. 1,8.
147. See Section 2(3) of the Sale of Goods Act. 1962 (Act 137).
148. See. Golf & Jones. The Law of Restitution 3d ed.. London, Sweet &
Maxwell. (1986) pp 426-7. 'See also, Fawcett v. Smethurst (1814) 84
L.J.K.B. 473; Clements v. L. & N. W. Ry. [1894] 2 Q.B. 482.
149. See Roberts v. Gray [1913] 1 K.B. 520, 530, where Hamilton LJ
Stated:
I am unable to appreciate why a contract which is in itself binding,
because it is a contract for necessaries not qualified by unreasonable
terms, can cease to be binding merely because it is still executory... If
the contract is binding at all, it must be binding for all such remedies
as are appropriate to the breach of it.
See also, Stocks v. Wilson [1913] 2 K.B. 235, 242 (per Lush J): Doyle v.
White City Stadium

Ltd [1935] 1 K.B. 110, 122-4 (Per Lord Hanworth MR).


150. See, De Francesco v. Barnum (1890) 45 Ch D 430 as compared to
Clements v. London
North West Rlv Co [1894] 2 Q.B. 482. See also, Roberts v. Gray [1913]
1 K.B.520; Doyle v. White City Stadium Ltd, supra.
151. See. per Alderson B., in Chappel v. Cooper (1884) 13 M &W 252,
258
152. See, Roberts v. Gray supra; Doyle v. White City Stadium, supra.
and Chaplin v. Leslie Frewin (Publishers) Ltd [1966] Ch. 71.
153. 1992 (PNDCL 276).
154. Section 2(3) of the Students' Loan Selicine Law, 1992 (PNDCL
276).
155. Cowern v. Nield [1912] 2 K.B. 419,422; Lowe v. Griffiths(1835) 1
Scott 458; Re Jones ex. p. Jones (1881) 18 Ch.K. 109, 120.
156. See, Cowern v. Nield, supra, where it was held that an infant hay
and straw dealer was not liable to refund the price of a consignment of
hay he had failed to deliver under a trading contract. See also
Mercantile Union Guarantee Corporation Ltd v. Ball [1937] 2 K.B. 498.
157. See, Davies v. Benyon-Harris (1931) 47 T.L.R. 42; Keteley's Case
(1613) 1 Brown 120; North Western Tly Co. v. McMichael (1851) 5 Exch.
114, 123-4.
158. See, Edwards v. Carter, supra.
159. Even though at common law partnership contracts are considered
as voidable contracts, in Ghana an infant is disabled from being a
member of a partnership by virtue of Section 5(2)(d) of the
Incorporated Partnership Act, 1962 (Act 152), and therefore cannot be
liable under a partnership. For the general rule see, Steinberg v. Scala
[1923] 2 Ch. 452; Edwards v. Carter [1893] A. C: 360; and Christmas v.
Beauchamp [1894] A. C. 607.
160. Cork & Bandon Rly v. Cazenove (1847) 10 Q. B. 935; Cf N.W. Rly v.
M'Michael (1850) 5 Exch. 114, 125.
161. See, Corpe v. Overton (1838) 10 Bing 252; Holmes v. Blogg (1818)
8 Taunt 508; Steinberg v. Scala (Leeds) Ltd [1923] 2 Ch. 452.

162. Cf Yeboa, Civil Rights and Obligations of the Child, in, The Right of
the Child In Ghana: Perspectives, Mensa-Bonsu H.J.A.N. & DowuonaHammond C. (eds), Woeli Publishers, Accra. (1994) pp 76-77.
163. See, Davies v. Benyon-Harris [1931] 47 T.L.R 424. which affirms
that an infant does have capacity to enter into a contract for a lease.
And see, Lartey v. Bannerman [1972] 2 G.L.R 438, 442-3.
164. Street on Torts. 8TH ed., London, Butterworths (1988) p 522:
Defries v. Davis (1835) 1 Scott 594.
165. See, Charbonneau v. MacRury 84 NH 501; 153A 457 (1931).
166. See, Burnard v. Haggis (1863) 14 C.B.N.S. 45; According to Lord
Sumner in R. Leslie v. Sheill [1914] 3 K.B. 607. 612. "it was thought
necessary to safeguard the weakness of infants at large, even though
here and there a juvenile knave slipped through." 166
167. See. Jennings v Rundall (1799) 8 Term Rep. 335. Fawcett v.
Smethurst (1814) 84 L.J.K.B. 473. and Ballet v. Mingay [1943] K.B. 281
168. Earl of Buckinghamshire v. Drury (1761) 2 Ed. 60.71. per Lord
Hardwicke.
169. See. R. Leslie Ltd v. Sheill [ 1914] 3 K.B. 607, at p. 618. (Per Lord
Sumer) :
.......... When an infant obtained an advantage by falsely stating himself
to be of full age, the equity required him to restore his ill-gotten gains,
or to release the party deceived from obligations or acts in law induced
by the fraud, but scrupulously stopped short of enforcing against him a
contractual obligation entered into while he was an infant, even by
means of a fraud .......... Restitution stopped where repayment began.
170. Ibid.
171. See, Nash v. Inman, supra; Ryder v. Wombwell (1868) L.R. 3 Ex.
90; affirmed (1869 L.R. 4 Ex. 32; Mercantile Union Guarantee
Corporation v. Ball, supra.
172. See, Cheshire. Fifoot & Furmston's Law of Contract. 12th ed., p
452.
173. See. This is the approach applied in section 3 of the Minors'
Contracts Act of England, 1987. See also. Bartlett v. Bailey 59 N. H. 408

(1879), where a New Hampshire court radically departed from the


common law position and held that a minor who was a milk dealer, was
liable for the reasonable value of milk supplied to him in the course of
his business.
174. This would help achieve a more equitable solution than was
achieved in cases such as Leslie v. Sheill supra, and Valentini v. Canali
(1889) 24 Q.B.D. 166.
175. Article 42 and 55(2) of the Constitution of Ghana.
176. Road Traffic Act. 1959. No. 21, Section 2(1).
177. Section 1(1) of the Wills Act 1971 (Act 360).
178. See, The Children's Act. 1998 (Act 560). sections 54 & 55.
179. See sections 1,87 & 91 of The Children's Act. See also, Ghana
National Service Scheme Act, 1980 (Act 426), section 2. which
stipulates that only persons of or above the age of 18 years are to be
allowed to undertake the National Service for a period of one year.
180. Section 1 of Act 560.
181. 1993, Act 462).
182. See, Article 28(2) and 28(5) of the Constitution and section 12 of
the Children's Act. 1998 (560).
183. 1998 (Act 560).
184. See, sections 53 & 54 of Act 560.
185. See, section 1 of the Wills Act, 1971 (Act 360), & section 2(1) of
the Road Traffic Ordinance, 1959, No. 21.
186. Section 2(1) of the Road Traffic Ordinance, 1959, No. 21.