At what age can I…
Generally, if you are under 18 you cannot enter into contracts. Contracts are legally binding agreements where something valuable is exchanged. The law says that under this age you can make valid contracts for necessary things – for example, food or clothing – but not motorbikes electrical equipment or mobile phone contracts.
s.3 Minors’ Contracts Act 1987
You can enter contracts at 18, this means you can make binding contracts in your own right. You can own land, buy a house or flat, hold a tenancy or apply for a mortgage. You can become entitled to any property that has been held in trust for you.
s.35 Finance Act 2005
You can act as an executor or administrator of a deceased person’s estate at 18.
s.1(a) Minors’ Contracts Act 1987
You can make a complaint at any age if you believe you are being treated differently, or being discriminated against on the basis of race, religion or belief, disability, sex and sexual orientation.
Equality Act 2010
You can apply for legal aid at any age, although if you are starting an action in the civil courts or family courts you may need to take that action through a Litigation Friend.
In some situations you may be able to apply for legal aid in your own right based on your means. You should contact Civil Legal Advice for more information.
If you are arrested and held in custody at the police station, you are entitled to receive the free services of the duty solicitor. If you are charged with a criminal offence and have to go to court, you are entitled to the free services of the duty solicitor at the first hearing.
For more information, see Legal aid.
Suing and being sued
You can be sued at any age. However, you cannot be held responsible for debt that you owe until the age of 18.
You can sue someone if you are under 18 years old, but you will need a litigation friend to issue and conduct court proceedings on your behalf.
From age 18 you can serve on a jury.
s.1 Juries Act 1974
From age 18 you can be sued and you can sue in your own right.
From age 18 you can make a will.
s.7 Wills Act 1837
Once you are 17 Children’s Services can no longer apply for a care order for you.