Mental Incapacity – Drugs and Alcohol

Mental Incapacity - Drugs and Alcohol

While society may be less sympathetic to those who are incapacitated due to alcohol or drug abuse, the fact remains that people who enter into contracts while under the influence of alcohol or drugs may have standing in a claim to avoid a contract due to mental incapacity. [1] Blum tells us that the underlying reason for allowing the avoidance of contracts when a party does not have the mental capacity to contract is for the protection of that individual. [2] Knowing this fact is quite useful and the rationale for making contracts voidable when a party does not have the mental capacity to contract is quite interesting.

For instance, Blum makes the inference that the person without the mental capacity to contract, who’s words or behavior is dispositive of his assent to contract, cannot be bound to execute the K because the assent is illusory. [2] In essence, his words and actions were “deceptive and based on a false impression.” [3] This is not to say that the incapacitated individual intended to be deceptive. Rather, my understanding is that because of the individual’s actions, which were based on a mental displacement from what is considered to be the normal reality, the Courts will find the required apparent assent to contract, to be a virtual impossibility. [4] Because of this, the only cure would be to give the incapacitated party a chance to affirm the K during a time when he is acting within a normal reality, or to avoid being bound to the terms of the agreement.

[1] Brian A. Blum, Examples & Explanations: Contracts 511 (6 ed. 2013).

[2] Id.

[3] Bryan A. Garner, Black's Law Dictionary, 1332 (9th ed. 2009).

[4] Blum, at 426.

Tags: mental incapacity, unenforceable agreement


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