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Void

That which is null and completely without legal force or binding effect.

The term void has a precise meaning that has sometimes been confused with the more liberal term voidable. Something that is voidable may be avoided or declared void by one or more of the parties, but such an agreement is not void per se.

A void contract is not a contract at all because the parties are not, and cannot be, bound by its terms. Therefore, no action can be maintained for breach of a void contract, and it cannot be made valid by ratification. Because it is nugatory, a void contract need not be rescinded or otherwise declared invalid in a court of law.

A void marriage is one that is invalid from its inception. In contrast to a voidable marriage, the parties to a void marriage may not ratify the union by living together as Husband and Wife. No Divorce or Annulment is required. Nevertheless, parties frequently do seek, and are permitted to seek, such a decree in order to remove any doubt about the validity of the marriage. Unlike a voidable marriage, a void marriage can be challenged even after the death of one or both parties.

In most jurisdictions a bigamous marriage, one involving a person who has a living spouse from an undissolved prior marriage, is void from the outset. In addition, statutes typically prohibit marriage between an ancestor and descendant; between a brother and a sister (whether related by whole blood, half blood, or Adoption); and between an uncle and niece or aunt and nephew.

A judgment entered by a court is void if a court lacks jurisdiction over the parties or subject matter of a lawsuit. A void judgment may be entirely disregarded without a judicial declaration that the judgment is void and differs from an erroneous, irregular, or voidable judgment. In practice, however, an attack on a void judgment is commonly used to make the judgment's flaw a matter of public record.

A law is considered void on its face if its meaning is so vague that persons of ordinary intelligence must guess at its meaning and may differ as to the statute's application (Connally v. General Construction Co., 269 U.S. 385, 46 S. Ct. 126, 70 L. Ed. 2d 322 [1926]). due process requires that citizens receive fair notice of what sort of conduct to avoid. For example, a Cincinnati, Ohio, city ordinance made it a criminal offense for three or more persons to assemble on a sidewalk and conduct themselves in a manner that was annoying to passersby. A conviction carried the possibility of a $50 fine and between one and thirty days imprisonment. The U.S. Supreme Court reversed the convictions of several persons found guilty of violating the ordinance after a demonstration and picketing (Coates v. Cincinnati, 402 U.S. 611, 91 S. Ct. 1686, 29 L. Ed. 2d 214 [1971]). The Court ruled that the ordinance was unconstitutionally vague because it subjected citizens to an unascertainable standard. Stating that "conduct that annoys some people does not annoy others," the Court said that the ordinance left citizens to guess at the proper conduct required. The Court noted that the city could lawfully prohibit persons from blocking the sidewalks, littering, obstructing traffic, committing assaults, or engaging in other types of undesirable behavior through "ordinances directed with reasonable specificity toward the conduct to be prohibited."

Cross-references

Bigamy; Consanguinity; Void for Vagueness Doctrine.

void

adj. referring to a statute, contract, ruling or anything which is null and of no effect. A law or judgment found by an appeals court to be unconstitutional is void, a rescinded (mutually cancelled) contract is void, and a marriage which has been annulled by court judgment is void. (See: voidable)

void

(Empty), adjective abandoned, bare, barren, blank, deserted, desolate, destitute, devoid, forsaken, free, hollow, inanis, lacking, unfilled, unfurnished, uninhabited, unoccupied, unsupplied, untenanted, vacant, vacuous, wanting, without contents

void

(Invalid), adjective cancelled, ineffective, inoperative, inritus, insubstantial, meaningless, not binding, not in force, nugatory, null, null and void, useless, vanus, without legal force
Associated concepts: void act, void contract, void in part, void in toto, void judgment, void marriage, void on its face, void process, voidable
Foreign phrases: Quae ab initio non valent, ex post facto convalescere non possunt.Things invalid from the beginning cannot be made valid by a subsequent act. Judicium a non suo judice datum nullius est momenti. A judgment rendered by one who is not the proper judge is of no force. Quod initio non valet, tractu temporis non valet. That which is void at the beginning does not become valid by lapse of time. Quod initio vitiosum est non potest tractu temporis convalescere. That which is void from the beginning cannot become valid by lapse of time.
See also: abandon, abate, abolish, abrogate, absence, adeem, annul, avoid, barren, blank, cancel, dead, defunct, deplete, discontinue, disown, eliminate, eradicate, extinguish, inactive, inexpressive, invalid, lifeless, nugatory, null, null and void, nullify, nullity, omission, overrule, recall, recant, repeal, rescind, revoke, supersede, vacant, vacuous

void

having no legal effect. In the law of contract, certain agreements may be treated as void, and if so they are treated as void ab initio, or ‘from their inception’ - i.e. they cannot ever have created legal consequences. Examples are SPONSIONES LUDICRAE, some, but not all, contracts entered into under error or mistake. The Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977 renders certain terms in contracts void, an example being one that tries to exclude liability for a breach of duty arising in the course of a business that causes death or personal injury.

VOID, contracts, practice. That which has no force or effect.
     2. Contracts, bequests or legal proceedings may be void; these will be severally considered.
     3.-1. The invalidity of a contract may arise from many causes. 1. When the parties have no capacity to contract; as in the case of idiots, lunatics, and in some states, under their local regulations, habitual drunkards. Vide Parties to contracts, Sec. 1; 1 Hen. & Munf 69; 1 South. R. 361; 2 Hayw. R. 394; Newl. on Contr. 19; 1 Fonb. Eq. 46; 3 Camp. 128; Long on Sales, 14; Highm. on Lunacy, 111, 112 Chit. on Contr. 29, 257.
     4.-2. When the contract has for its object the performance of an act malum in se; as a covenant to rob or kill a man, or to commit a breach of the peace. Shep. To. 163; Co. Lit. 206, b 10 East, R. 534.
     5.-3. When the thing to be performed is impossible; as, if a man were to covenant to go from the United States to Europe in one day. Co. Lit. 206, b. But in these cases, the impossibility must exist at the time of making the contract; for although subsequent events may excuse the performance, the contract is not absolutely void; as, if John contract to marry Maria, and, before the time appointed, the covenantee marry her himself, the contract will not be enforced, but it was not void in its creation. It differs from a contract made by John, who, being a married man, and known to the covenantee, enters into a contract to marry Maria during the continuance of his existing marriage, for in that case the contract is void.
     6.-4. Contracts against public policy; as, an agreement not to marry any one, or not to follow any business; the one being considered in restraint of marriage, and the other in restraint of trade. 4 Burr. 2225; S. C. Wilm. 364; 2 Vern. 215; Al. 67: 8 Mass. R. 223; 9 Mass. R. 522; 1 Pick. R. 443; 3 Pick. R. 188.
     7.-5. When the contract is fraudulent, it is void, for fraud vitiates everything. 1 Fonb. Equity, 66, note Newl. on Contr. 352; and article Fraud. As to cases when a condition consists of several parts, and some are lawful and others are not, see article Condition.
     8.-2. A devise or bequest is void:. 1. When made by a person not lawfully authorized to make a will; as, a lunatic or idiot, a married woman, and an infant before arriving at the age of fourteen, if a male, and twelve if a female. Harg. Co. Lit. 896, If; Rob. on Wills, 28; Godolph. Orph. Leg. 21. 2. When there is a defect in the form of the will, or when the devise is forbidden by law; as, when a perpetuity is given, or when the devise in unintelligible. 3. When it has been obtained by fraud. 4. When, the devisee is dead. 5. And when there has been an express or implied revocation of the will. Vide Legacy; Will.
     9.-3. A writ or process is void when there was not any authority for issuing it, as where the court had no jurisdiction, In such case, the officers acting under it become trespassers, for they are required, notwithstanding it may sometimes be a difficult question of law, to decide whether the court has or has not jurisdiction. 2 Brownl. 124; 10 Co. 69; March's R. 118; 8 T. R. 424; 3 Cranch, R. 330; 4 Mass. R. 234. Vide articles Irregularity; Regular and Irregular Process. Vide, generally, 8 Com. Dig. 644; Bac. Ab. Conditions, K; Bac. Ab. Infancy, &c. I; Bac. Ab. h.t.; Dane's Ab. Index, h.t.; 3 Chit. Pr. 75; Yelv. 42, a, note 1; 1 Rawle, R. 163; Bouv. Inst Index, h.t.

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