We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is an Illegal Contract?

By Amanda R. Bell
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
MyLawQuestions is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At MyLawQuestions, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A contract is considered illegal when the action required by one or both parties is against criminal or civil law or detrimental to the good of the public. An illegal contract can include a contract in which the end result is illegal or the steps to reach the end result are illegal. A contract can also be considered illegal if it goes against a previous contract. A court will not uphold an illegal contract in most cases, although this determination is left to the discretion of a judge. This gray area also allows a court to determine a contract is illegal even none of the actions detailed in the contract are against the law.

There are two main types of illegal contracts. The most common is a contract between two parties in which one agrees to exchange money or property for the illegal actions of the other. The simplest example of this would be one person hiring another to commit murder. A court will not require either party to hold up their end of the deal.

An illegal contract can also describe a contract in which one person agrees to provide another with money or property through illegal means. This could refer to a drug dealer promising to pay another dealer a percentage of earnings. In addition, if someone buys illegal drugs but doesn't pay for them, the dealer can't go to court to force the customer to pay up because the underlying transaction is illegal.

An agreement that requires a person to break an existing contract is also considered an illegal contract. This often exists in employment cases in which a potential employee goes to work for a new employer while still under contract with the current employer. In most instances, a court would probably rule that the employee must first satisfy the initial contract before entering into a new one; the second agreement would be considered an illegal contract and therefore void.

In almost every country, the legality of a contract is often a complicated issue, and, as a result, in many cases is left up to the discretion and interpretation of the court. While unusual, a court may uphold an illegal contract if there is no harm to either party or the public at large. This same discretion is also used to determine the legality of a contract where intent is concerned. The sale of weapons or household items may be legal; a court can determine, however, that the contract for sale is illegal if the buyer intends to commit a crime and the seller is aware of this intent.

Contract law varies greatly by jurisdiction. In an effort to avoid entering into an illegal contract, it is beneficial to hire an attorney to review any contract before it is signed. This review can protect both parties from future legal and financial problems.

MyLawQuestions is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Markerrag — On Feb 11, 2014

The notion of two parties fighting to enforce something like a contract under which one party kills someone in exchange for money is funny, isn't it?

Still, those who engage in illegal contracts usually worry about enforcement from something other than a court, don't they?

MyLawQuestions, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

MyLawQuestions, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.