Arbitration is a method of dispute resolution which parties may agree to through a pre-dispute contract. Often, a plaintiff will attempt to avoid the contractual agreement to arbitration because the plaintiff believes that arbitration puts him or her at a strategic disadvantage. A plaintiff may argue that he or she did not have the capacity to enter into the agreement to arbitrate. Normally, contracts with children are voidable at the discretion of the child. A recent case held that a child could be bound by an arbitration agreement, even though he did not have the capacity to be bound by the agreement, because the child fraudulently represented that a legal guardian agreed to a contract with an arbitration agreement. Peter Mavrick is a Fort Lauderdale business litigation lawyer, and also represents clients in business litigation in Miami, Boca Raton, and Palm Beach. The Mavrick Law Firm represents clients in breach of contract litigation, non-compete agreement litigation, trade secret litigation, trademark infringement litigation, and other legal disputes in federal and state courts and in arbitrate.
A party cannot be compelled to arbitrate his or her disputes without having agreed to arbitration. A previous article explored the required consent in arbitration and apparent authority. A party that does not have the capacity to enter into an arbitration agreement generally cannot be bound by that contract.
Children do not have the same capacity to enter into contracts that people over the age of 18 have. Particularly, children often have the discretion to rescind a contract. “The right of an infant to avoid his contract is one conferred by law for his protection against his own improvidence and the designs of others; …. It is the policy of the law to discourage adults from contracting with infants.” Putnal v. Walker, 61 Fla. 720 (Fla. 1911).