What is Status and Legal Capacity

These terms are often mentioned in laws,
contracts and news articles.  What do
they actual mean? Status refers to your rights and
responsibilities in civil and criminal law and whether you can sue or be sued. This
is further limited by your domicile (where you live and consider to be your
home country), your age and your mental capacity. Age and capacity go hand in hand, as
described below :
  • 0-7 Years old- Children between
    these ages have no capacity to act and need a parent or guardian to act on
    their behalf;
  • 7-18 Years old- These ages have
    limited capacity to act. At this stage a minor (any person under the age of 18
    years) can enter into contracts but need their parent or guardian to consent
    before it is legally binding; and
  • 18 years and above- You are now
    considered a major and have unlimited capacity to act, unless you are mentally
    incapacitated.  In this case, the court
    would appoint a Curator to administer your affairs on your behalf in your best
Here are some random and interesting other
facts about the law and age:
  • 0-10 Years – Children between
    these ages have no criminal liability;
  • 10 Years old – 18 Years old-
    these minors need to consent to an adoption to be legal;
  • 14 years and older- This person
    can be a witness to a will;
  • 12 Years and above- a minor can
    make medical decisions for themselves without their parents/guardians consent
    if they understand the risks involved ;
  • 12-15 Years old- A minor of
    this age can get married with consent of their parent/guardian and the Minister
    of Home Affairs, when they are married they still obtain the status of majority
    even after divorce; and
  • 16 Years and above- A minor can
    now execute a will for themselves without assistance or consent of a parent or
The law therefore indicates that to enter
into any legal contract or litigation in general one must know of their legal
status in order to peruse same legally. For any questions on your legal status
contact our offices today on 031 003 0630 or email us at [email protected]


Charmaine Schwenn

Charmaine Schwenn

AttorneySchwenn Incorporated Attorneys & ConveyancersOver the last two decades, Charmaine has grown a loyal following of clients. As a former partner at Tate, Nolan and Knight Inc., Charmaine has worked with clients across a diverse spectrum of industries and needs.

Nicci Hosking

Nicci is our hardworking, loyal, and devoted KZNWIB administrator that is professional, personable, and committed to providing an excellent service. She can be counted on to meet deadlines efficiently with enthusiasm and high work quality.