SW Legal studies in Business

Illegal Act Done to Complete a Contract Does Not Make Contract Illegal
Description Appeals court held that when a party to a contract committed an illegal act as a part of fulfilling his bargain, the contract was not illegal. The contract did not call for an illegal act; that was the decision of one of the parties after a valid contract had been formed.
Topic Contracts
Key Words Rescission; Illegal Contract
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Vollmer bought a piece of real estate from Key for $104,500. Vollmer agreed that $25,000 of the purchase price would be paid in the form of repair and replacement of a seawall on an adjacent piece of property owned by Key. After the transaction was completed, Vollmer got a permit from the county do to the seawall repair. Except for repairs to one's own property, a licensed contractor must be hired for such work. Vollmer lied to the county and said the seawall work was on his property, so he was given a repair permit. Vollmer then did the repair work on the seawall himself. When Key discovered this, he sued, seeking rescission of the contract on the basis of illegality because Vollmer was not licensed to do the seawall work. The trial court rescinded the contract for sale of the property and all related documents. Vollmer appealed.

Reversed. The contract is not illegal. The provision in the contract requiring Vollmer to have the seawall repaired does not require that he personally perform the work. It merely stated that he is required to "pay for permits, supplies and labor." Key anticipated that Vollmer would hire a contractor to do the work. Key did not sign a contract asking Vollmer to do something illegal, so the contract was not void; a valid contract was formed. If Vollmer does not live up to the terms of the contract with respect to having the seawall repaired properly, then Key may have a cause of action for damages.

Citation Vollmer v. Key Financial Corp., So,2d (2002 WL 63385, Ct. App., Fla., 2002)

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