Cowern v Nield: KBD 14 May 1912

The infant had sold goods to the plaintiff, but did not deliver them. The buyer sought repayment of the sums paid. The infant had fraudulently hidden his age.
Held: The fraud went to the heart of the contract since it concerned the ability to contract. The promises of an infant are not enforceable against that infant.
Philimore J said: ‘An infant is not necessarily liable on a contract merely because it is for his benefit. I am satisfied . . That the only contracts which, if for the infant’s benefit, are enforceable against him, are contracts relating to the infant’s person, such as contracts for necessaries, food, clothing and lodging, contracts of marriage, and contracts of apprenticeship and service. In my opinion a trading contract does not come within that category.’

Philimore J
[1912] 2 KB 419, [1911-1913] All ER Rep 425, 81 LJKB 865, 106 LT 984, 28 LTR 423, 56 Sol Jo 552, [1912] UKLawRpKQB 79
England and Wales

Contract, Children

Updated: 19 January 2022; Ref: scu.640526