There are elements that should be present during the formation and enforcement of contracts. First is the need for a ‘meeting of the minds’ or mutual assent between the parties so that one party agrees to give, do something or not to give or perform any action in exchange for a corresponding action or inaction on the part of the other party. There should be mutual expectations. Second is the existence of an offer and an acceptance. One party to the contract can offer to do or not to do and give or not give something to another party.
If that other party accepts the terms, this fulfills the second element. Third is the existence of a mutual consideration involving an exchange of value, which distinguishes it from a gift. A party could provide to give or not to give and do or not to do something in exchange for money or a counter action or inaction of value. Fourth is the content or scope of the contract should not violate public policy. If it does, then the contract become void and non-fulfillment will not accrue liability.
Fifth is the capacity of the parties to enter into a contract, which means that the parties should quality under the legal age and/or should have a sound state of mind. Otherwise, the contract becomes subject to disaffirmation. With these elements present, parties enforce contracts though delivery or performance by actually making the exchange of value for value. (Richards, 2007) The importance and universality of contracts finds expression in various media, even in Disney’s animated film ‘Little Mermaid’ (Ashman, Musker & Clements, 1989).
Analyzing the film explains the dynamics and functions of contracts in different legal situations. Legal Issue 1: Minors and Contracts One situation relating to contracts from Little Mermaid is the capacity of minors to enter into a contract together with the implications on the validity of the contract, obligations, violations, and remedies of the parties involved. The legal issue in this situation is whether Ariel is bound to comply with the terms of the contract she entered into with Ursula and the remedies available.
The rule in the case of minors engaging in contracts is that they can enter to contracts much like adults provided the contract does not involve something prohibited by law. However, the status of contracts with minors is voidable, which means that the contracting party who is a minor can disaffirm the contract by expressing renouncement of the contract or the intention to set aside all the obligations contained in the contract. (Richards, 2007) Ariel, the little princess mermaid whose life the movie revolve around, was sixteen years old when she entered into an agreement with Ursula, a sea witch.
Her father King Triton prohibits the mermaids and mermen not to go to the surface of the ocean and risk being seen by humans. This was to ensure the safety of mermaids and mermen. However, Ariel is quite curios about humans and walking on land that she searches sunken ships and goes to the surface a number of times. During one time, she chanced to see the ship of Prince Eric. Ariel falls in lover with the prince upon seeing him. A storm hit the ship and Ariel rescued the prince from drowning. After this encounter, Ariel decided to seek the help of Ursula to gain feet and be able to meet her prince.
The agreement between Ariel and Ursula involves Ariel giving up her charming singing voice in exchange for a pair of legs. However, Ursula set the condition that Ariel must make Eric fall in love with her and have him kiss her in three days even without a voice or she will die and become sea foam. Ariel agrees to these terms. Ursula takes away Ariel’s voice and gives Ariel a potion to turn her tail into human legs. Pressed with time, Ariel seeks to find a way to deal with the consequences of the contract to gain Eric’s affection and prevent her demise. (Ashman et al. , 1989)
An argument for the plaintiff, which in this case is Ariel, would be to use her minor status in disaffirming the contract. Ariel could show that she has communicated to Ursula her intention to repudiate the agreement between them. This means that Ursula should return her voice. However, the defendant, Ursula, could argue a number of things. One is that Ariel has not disaffirmed the entirety of the contract as provided by law because she benefited from the exchange and only seeks to repudiate her possible death in failing to meet the terms of the agreement.
The other is that Ariel has not returned the item given to her or restored Ursula in the same position she was in prior to the contract. The probable conclusion to this issue is the validity of the disaffirmation of the contract by Ariel due to her status as a minor in entering the contract. However, by voiding the contract, the parties revert to their positions before the contract. Ursula has to give back Ariel’s voice and Ariel needs to give Ursula compensation for the value of the potion.