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A voidable contract is a type of contract that may be legally cancelled or voided by one or both of the parties involved. Voidable contracts are different from void contracts, which cannot be enforced at all, and unenforceable contracts, which while legal in principle, cannot be enforced by a court of law. In Australia, the law regarding voidable contracts is governed by common law, as well as the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act 2001 (ASIC Act).
In general, a contract may be classified as voidable if one party has been coerced, misled, or otherwise deceived into signing the contract, or if the terms of the agreement are deemed unfair or unreasonable. This may occur in a variety of contexts, such as consumer contracts, employment contracts, or commercial agreements.
Under the Australian Consumer Law, a contract may be voidable if the terms of the agreement are unconscionable, in other words, if they are so unfair that they shock the conscience. This may include situations where one party is in a position of power or influence over the other, such as a large corporation dealing with a small business or an individual consumer. The Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act also provides for voidable contracts in certain situations, such as where a financial services provider engages in misleading or deceptive conduct.
If a contract is deemed voidable, the affected party may seek to have the contract cancelled or rescinded, meaning that it is no longer legally binding. This may involve going to court, or it may be resolved through negotiation or mediation. The affected party may also seek damages for any losses or harm suffered as a result of the voidable contract.
It is important for individuals and businesses to be aware of the potential risks associated with entering into contracts, and to seek legal advice before signing any agreements. Contract law can be complex, and the consequences of entering into a voidable contract can be significant. By understanding the law regarding voidable contracts in Australia, individuals and businesses can protect themselves and avoid costly disputes.