Today, I would like to briefly discuss what the law says about validity and enforceability of a contract to which one of the parties is minor. To what extent is a minor’s action or contract enforceable under the law of Cambodia?
Pursuant to Article 17 of the Civil Code of Cambodia, a minor is defined as a natural person who is under the age of 18 years. To protect the interest of minor who lacks understanding of legal consequences of his or her contract or action, the Civil Code classifies the minor into the group of persons whose capacity to act is restricted by the law. Consequently, the contract made by one of the parties who is the minor is rescinded if there is no consent from parental authority holder or guardian of the minor. If an act or a contract of a minor is rescinded, such act or contract invalid from the beginning of such act or contract. (Article 358, paragraph 2) The minor himself or herself, parental authority holder or guardian of the minor have the right to rescind the contract of the said minor. (Article 359, Paragraph 2)
After discussion over the general rule on action or contract of a minor, I am going to discuss the question whether all contracts or actions of minor require parental authority holder or guardian. To answer this question, I further refer to the Civil Code of Cambodia which provides the exceptional rules for the contract or act of the minor. Under the Civil Code, certain actions or contracts of a minor in specified conditions or situations cannot be rescinded although they have been made without consent of parental authority holder or guardian. These actions or contracts include the ones performed only for the purpose of acquiring rights by the minor (for example, an act of minor to receive donation) or discharging a duty or obligation of the minor (for example, an act of minor to accept waiver of debt) and the ones conducted by the minor in the course of daily life ( for example, an act of buying food and drink).
Regarding disposal of his or her property, the minor is allowed to dispose the property which has been permitted by the parental authority holder or guardian for specific or unspecific purpose. (Article 19) Now we examine the example of disposal of property with purpose. Every day, a parent gives 5$ to a minor for daily expense on food and travelling costs. Accordingly, a minor has the right to use this money within the scope of purpose. Then we now examine the example of disposal of property without specific purpose. A parent gives 5$ to a minor every day without any specific purpose or instruction. Accordingly, the minor can use this money at his or her will. He can buy any goods or services with the amount of his or her money received from his parental authority holder or guardian.
A minor who has been permitted by his or her parental authority holder or guardian to conduct a business is deemed to have the capacity to act like a person of majority to the extent of the said business. For example, if the parents allow the minor to run a coffee shop. The minor can enter into the contracts to employ staff and buy goods and services for the operation of his or her business. However, the parental authority holder or guardian can rescind the permission if they find that the minor is unbale to manage the permitted business. (Article 20)
If a minor has reached the age of 16 years and been able to support the living by himself or herself, the court may declare the emancipation (being free from control of parental authority holder or guardian) of the minor upon the petition of the minor and if such emancipation is deemed in the minor’s best interest. The court must seek opinions of the parental authority holder. (Article 21, Civil Code) A minor who has been married is deemed to have been emancipated without a court’s declaration. This emancipation does not cease even if the minor gets divorced later. An emancipated minor has the capacity to act in the same manner as an adult does. (Article 22, Civil Code)
Regarding contract which requires the labor of a minor (for example, employment contract), parental authority holder or guardian cannot enter into the contract for or on behalf of the minor. The contract which is signed or made by parental authority holder or guardian does not bind the obligation of the minor, except the minor ratifies or agree with the said contract. If the labor contract of the minor is considered to be disadvantageous to the minor, the parental authority holder, guardian, or administrative authority can terminate said contract and such termination must not be retroactive. (Article 23, Civil Code)
This text is not legal opinion or legal advice.