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Illegal Agreements


ILLEGAL AGREEMENTS. By an il legal agreement or contract is meant, not one lacking some of the legal requisites of a binding contract, but one, the subject-matter of which is in contravention of some positive law. (Walker, Am. Law, 467.) The prin ciple being that if the general intent of the legislature as determined from a penal statute forbidding an act to be done under penalty, is to prohibit the act, or to protect the public health or morals, then any contract to do such act is invalid, whether the statute declares so or not.

An agreement or contract to commit any of the crimes mentioned in the penal code of the State, or to break or infringe any law of the State or country is void and unenforceable. (Clement's Appeal, 52 Conn. 464; Hatch v. Mann, 15 Wend. 44.) By statute in the several States all species of gaming contracts or wagers are declared void. (Rev. Stat. Ohio, Sec. 4269.) Just what are wagering contracts is not always clear.

At common law wagering agreements were able (Gilbert v. Sykes, i6 East. '5o); but in this try this principle of the common law has not prevailed and wagering contracts are illegal independent of utes. (Love v. Harvey, 114 Mass. 82; Eldred v, loy, 2 COI. 320; Wilkinson v. Tousley, 16 Minn. 299.) Usury, or the taking of greater interest than the law allows, may be made to avoid the contract. The rate of interest is prescribed by statute in the various States, as is also the penalty for taking a greater amount than the law allows. The taking of usurious interest does not now void the contract, but as a rule the in terest above the legal rate is applied on the principal debt, or may be recovered by suit.

law and contract