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Having no legal effect or consequence.
Contracts, bequests or legal proceedings may be void; these will be severally considered.
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.
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.
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. 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 coveiaantee, enters into a contract to marry Maria during the continuance of his existing marriage, for in that case the contract is void.
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. When the contract is fraudulent, it is void, for fraud vitiates everything. As to cases when a condition consists of several parts, and some are lawful and others are not, see article Condition.
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.. 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.
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.