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Partial Illegality

15 January, 2016 - 09:33

A six-page employment contract contains two paragraphs of an illegal noncompete agreement. The illegal part is thrown out, but the legal parts are enforceable.


There are a number of exceptions to the general rule that courts give no relief to either party to an illegal contract. The rule may be relaxed in cases where justice would be better served than by following the stricture of hands off.


  1. When, in general, will a court allow a party relief from an illegal contract (or bargain)?
  2. A and B engage in a game of high-stakes poker under circumstances making the game illegal in the jurisdiction. A owes B $5,000 when A loses. When A does not pay, B sues. Does B get the money? What if A had paid B the $5,000 and then sued to get it back?