Nash v. Inman

Nash v. Inman

[1908] 2 KB 1

(Contract for necessity for minor enforceable)


A tailor supplied 13 waistcoats and other things of that kind to a undergraduate student when latter was a minor. Student refused to pay for the goods supplied and tailor brought this suit against him for recovery of price of those goods.


  1. Whether the goods so supplied fall into the category of necessary?
  2. If the answer is No, whether the contract was enforceable at law?
  3. On whom does the onus to prove or disprove the necessity of goods so supplied fall?


“Necessaries means goods or services suitable to the condition in life of minor, or any other person incapable of forming contract for himself, and as to his actual requirements at the time of sale and delivery”. This means that not only the goods need to be suitable and necessary to the condition in life of a minor (here) but also be needed by minor in actuality, i.e. he must not be already having sufficient supply of such goods. The onus to prove that the thing contracted for was a necessity lies on plaintiff, however difficult it may be to prove that it was needed by minor in actuality.

In English Law, incompetent person is to compensate the supplier of necessities to him by paying a reasonable price for such necessities. However, if the necessities so supplied are services instead of goods, then action for recovery lies against estate of such person and not against him.

Fletcher-Moulton LJ: 

An infant, like a lunatic, is incapable of making a contract of purchase in the strict sense of the words; but if a man satisfies the needs of the infant or lunatic by supplying to him necessaries, the law will imply an obligation to repay him for the services so rendered, and will enforce that obligation against the estate of the infant or lunatic.

Buckley LJ: 

“an infant may contract for the supply at a reasonable price of articles reasonably necessary for his support in his station in life if he has not already a sufficient supply. To render an infant’s contract for necessaries an enforceable contract two conditions must be satisfied, namely, (1.) the contract must be for goods reasonably necessary for his support in his station in life, and (2.) he must not have already a sufficient supply of these necessaries.”

Conclusion: Having settled the current legal position in English law, Court held for the defendant due to absence of any major evidence for plaintiff. Since plaintiff could not prove that the clothes so delivered were actually needed as necessity by minor, hence, Court observed that the contract was not the one for necessity and hence was void ab initio.


Author: Vishrut Kansal (National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata)


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