Contracts concluded by minors
Whether buying a drink at the school cafeteria, downloading an app or ordering a concert ticket: Children and young people conclude contracts nearly every day. At what age are they allowed to act on their own? How far does the protecting hand of the legislator reach? When are the guardians responsible for the actions of their children? ECC Austria gives information about this topic.
In order to protect children and young people from concluding contracts on their own, they are considered by the legislative to have only limited contractual capacity.
Legal capacity means the ability to acquire rights and to assume duties on their own. With their 18th birthday, young people can freely decide which contracts and obligations they conclude. To protect minors, the legal capacity is graded by age.
The law distinguishes between three different age categories in which children and young people are allowed to do different things.
Children at the age of seven years or younger can’t assume any legal commitments on their own. Excluded are only age-appropriate purchases, such as ice cream or sweets.
Young people between seven to 14 or 14 to 18 years have limited contractual capacity. However, the guardians have the option to approve or cancel a contract in retrospect. Only small businesses, which don't harm the livelihood of young people, can be done independently.
These rules apply for purchases in the shop as well as for so-called distance contracts, e.g. online purchases. Especially with contracts concluded online it might be more difficult, as the contractual partners don’t see each other and the trader can’t prove the age of the cons