4 Defenses to Void or Invalidate a Contract

How the law can help you get out of a contract in Minnesota

By Benjy Schirm, J.D. | Last updated on January 13, 2023

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Whether you realize it or not, we form and create contracts every single day. To form a contract, all you need is two parties: one contracting party to make an offer, another to accept the offer and give some consideration, generally a payment of some sort. But when are these agreements unenforceable? Most contracts are legally binding, but there are a number of ways that a contract can be invalidated or rescinded. If you want to get out of a contract, the best bet is to find one of the legal defenses.

Legal Capacity

In the state of Minnesota, a minor (someone under 18 years of age) is able to void any contract unless it is for necessities. The law says any minor, or one who lacks the mental capacity to realize the consequences of contracting, may void any contract entered into. Necessaries include items and services that are necessary to the minor’s health and safety, such as food, lodging, shelter and clothing. In some instances, automobiles are considered necessaries. So, if a minor enters into an enforceable contract for something that is not a necessary item, they can usually get out of it.

Illegal Contract

As a matter of public policy, Minnesota law deems contracts for illegal goods or services as invalid. For example, any contract for the exchange of illegal drugs, harming others or breaking any law are not enforceable. The illegality must relate directly to the subject matter creation of the contract, and not some intervening circumstance. So, if you expect the law to protect your rights in a contract, be certain that the subject matter doesn’t break the law.


Immediacy has become one of the central pillars of commerce in the United States. Contracts are formed quickly, and purchases can be made online between a human and a computer program for goods in a matter of seconds. This inevitably means that there will be mistakes in understanding all the terms of a contract. If there is a significant mistake in the understanding of the material parts of the contract, it could be voided. But, if there is an easy fix or concession that one party can make, or if one party isn’t significantly hurt or damaged by the contract being fulfilled, then it will most likely stand up to challenge.

Misrepresentation and Fraud

Similar to the mistake defense, if one party to a contract has lied or intentionally led the other to believe that they were contracting for something other than they have represented, the contract can be voided. This defense is most often used in investing scams where an agent sells fraudulent investment opportunities to unwitting buyers. If you have the misfortune to have entered into a fraudulent contract, the courts will protect you. Be aware, however, that fraudsters are often sophisticated and difficult to track down once they have your money. So, this defense shouldn’t be relied upon to enter into risky contracts with suspect sellers offering results that are too good to be true. If you have entered into a contract that is less than you had hoped, don’t despair. Contact a reputable and experienced attorney to seek legal advice and what options you may have. If you’d like more general information about this area of the law, see our contract law overview.

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