Rights and responsibilities of children under eighteen

Updated 10 July 2019



1 Any agreement signed by an under eighteen year old employee could not be upheld in the court as having been signed by a minor i.e. contract unenforceable.


2 Although minors frequently enter into credit agreements, such agreements are not legally enforceable until the minor is over eighteen years of age. Most finance companies insist that a parent or guardian stands guarantor for a credit agreement, some will not allow a minor to enter into an agreement unless the parent or guardian is party to the agreement (ie agreement will be in joint names). The court will accept an action to sue a minor, but if there is a judgement given, it cannot be enforced by the Viscount's Department until the minor reaches eighteen years.

Liability for debts or compensation

3 A minor is not legally liable for debts resulting from contracts for the supply of anything other than the necessities of life, for example food and essential clothing. If a person under eighteen runs up debts for other luxury items they could be taken to court and sued. However, if the creditor is given judgement, this could not be enforced by the Viscount Department until the debtor is eighteen.

If the minor has a debt resulting from damages or liability for wrong doing they are responsible for repayment and can be sued in the court, but any judgement could not be enforced until they reached the age of majority at eighteen. Should the minor be under the age of puberty, then the parents could be held responsible for any payments due, and could be sued.

Minimum age for employment

4. For more information on child employment, click here