Updated October 7,2020: 

A null and void contract is a formal agreement that is illegitimate and, thus, unenforceable from the moment it was created. Such a contract never comes into effect because it misses essential elements of a properly designed legal contract or violates contract laws altogether.

Basic Elements of a Valid Contract

To be legally binding and enforceable under state and federal laws, a contract must include the following elements:

  1. Offer and acceptance: The terms of the offer made by one party must be described in details. The other party must accept those terms freely.
  2. Legal object and capacity of parties: The agreement's subject matter must be legal, and both parties must consent to the terms willingly, be over the age of consent, and be in sound mind at the time of signing the agreement.
  3. Consideration: A price or value exchanged must be clearly stated in the contract and describe how both parties benefit from the agreement.

Though some verbal agreements are enforceable, written form is required for contracts involving a significant consideration, debts, or real estate property as well as for contracts that will not be executed for a long time, such as a will and testament.

Difference Between “Void” and “Voidable” Contracts

A void contract is illegitimate and unenforceable from the start because of the way it was drafted. Such a contract typically states impossible or illegal terms, consideration, or object; involves a party that was not of sound mind or was under the age of consent when signing the documents; or violates the rights of a party.

A contract can be void if it is not enforceable as it was originally written due to changes in laws and regulations that took place after the contract was signed but before it was fulfilled. While agreements made with a minor are void, the consent of the parent or guardian makes it enforceable. A fulfilled contract can be deemed void because all the obligations and terms are satisfied and nothing is left to enforce.

A voidable contract, on the other hand, is valid and may be enforceable when both parties agree to proceed. In such case, the agreement is actionable, but the circumstances of the agreement are questionable. While one party is bound to the terms of the contract, the other party may oppose the contract for legal reasons. A contract may be voidable in the following situations:

  • A party was forced or threatened to sign the contract.
  • A party was under the influence.
  • A party was not mentally competent.
  • The terms of the contract were violated.
  • Mistakes were made by both parties.
  • The contract is illegal.
  • The information and facts were misrepresented or withheld.

Tips for Executing a Contract Correctly

  • Take your time to read through the whole document.
  • Make sure that the terms of the offer are clearly stated.
  • Make sure you understand all parts of the contract. Clarify any details that you don't comprehend fully.
  • Put your contract in writing to have proof of the agreement in case of any future disputes.
  • Pay attention to the acceptance details, such as specific dates and deadlines.
  • Confirm the other party's identity before entering into an agreement.

How to Write an Agreement to Render a Contract Null and Void

Your circumstances will determine what documents you need to terminate the contract.

  • Termination by mutual agreement is a simple termination document that prevents parties from suing each other if one of them changes their mind about termination later. To terminate the contract completely and to release both parties of any accrued liability and obligations, include release language in the mutual termination agreement.
  • Termination for convenience allows one party to terminate the contract for any reason by writing a termination notice to another party.
  • Termination for cause is executed in case of serious issues with a major section of the contract caused by the other party.

Is a Lawyer Needed for Any Contract Issues?

A business lawyer can help you create, draft, and edit a proper contract and prevent it from becoming void or voidable. In case of a breach of contract or a violation of contract laws, your lawyer will represent you legally in court.

If you need more information about null and void contracts, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.