When it comes to contracts, many factors can render them invalid or unenforceable. One significant factor is illegality. Illegality can be a vitiating element to contract, meaning that it can void or nullify the contract. In this article, we will discuss illegality as a vitiating element to contract and how it can affect the validity of a contract.

What is illegality in a contract?

Illegality occurs when a contract violates the law or public policy. A contract that is illegal is one that cannot be enforced by law. There are different types of illegality that can render a contract invalid. Some examples of illegal contracts include contracts that involve the sale or distribution of illegal drugs, contracts that promote prostitution or gambling, and contracts that violate anti-discrimination laws.

How does illegality affect a contract?

Illegality can affect a contract in several ways. Firstly, an illegal contract is void ab initio, meaning that it is invalid from the outset. This means that the contract is null and void from the moment it is created and cannot be enforced by any of the parties involved. Additionally, an illegal contract may be unenforceable even if it has been partially performed. For example, if a party has violated a contract by engaging in illegal activities despite the contract being partially fulfilled, they cannot enforce the contract.

Furthermore, illegality can also affect the rights and obligations of the parties involved in the contract. Any money or property transferred under an illegal contract may be subject to forfeiture. Also, the parties involved in an illegal contract may not be able to seek relief in a court of law. This can be especially problematic in situations where one party has been wronged or has suffered damages as a result of the contract.

What are the consequences of an illegal contract?

The consequences of an illegal contract can be severe. Parties involved in an illegal contract may face legal penalties, fines, or even imprisonment. Additionally, any benefits or profits that were gained as a result of the illegal contract may be forfeited. Moreover, if an illegal contract is discovered by the authorities, it may harm the reputation of the parties involved and may have legal and financial implications.


Illegality is a significant vitiating element to contract, and it can render contracts null and void. It is important to ensure that contracts comply with the law and public policy to avoid any legal and financial consequences. If you are entering into a contract, it is essential to seek legal guidance to ensure that the contract is valid and enforceable. By understanding the implications of illegality in a contract, you can protect yourself and your business from potential legal and financial harm.