An unenforceable contract or transaction is one that is valid, but which the court will not enforce. Unenforceable is usually used in contradistinction to void (or "void ab initio") and voidable. If the parties perform the agreement, it will be valid, but the court will not compel them if they do not.

An example of a transaction which is an unenforceable contract is a contract for prostitution under English law. Prostitution is not actually a crime under English law, Although both soliciting a prostitute and living off the earnings of a prostitute are criminal offencesFact|date=February 2008 but so long as the contract is fully performed, it remains valid. However, if either refuses to complete the bargain (either the prostitute after being paid, or the payor after receiving the service) then the court will not assist the disappointed party. Similarly under English law, a gambling contract is valid, but unenforceable (gambling contracts are sometimes said to be "binding in honour only"). If a bookmaker refuses to pay out on a bet, then the punter has no legal recourse. Not even for a return of his original stake.Fact|date=February 2008


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  • unenforceable — un·en·force·able /ˌən in fȯr sə bəl/ adj: not enforceable in a court un·en·force·abil·i·ty / ˌfȯr sə bi lə tē/ n Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of Law. Merriam Webster. 1996 …   Law dictionary

  • unenforceable — UK US /ˌʌnɪnˈfɔːsəbl̩/ US  / ˈfɔːr / adjective ► LAW an unenforceable law or system cannot be accepted as legal in a court of law: »Sections of the amendment are unenforceable under federal law. ► that people cannot be made to obey, or that… …   Financial and business terms

  • unenforceable — [spelling only] …   English World dictionary

  • unenforceable — adjective not enforceable; not capable of being brought about by compulsion an unenforceable law unenforceable reforms • Ant: ↑enforceable …   Useful english dictionary

  • unenforceable — adj. Unenforceable is used with these nouns: ↑contract …   Collocations dictionary

  • unenforceable — adj. * * * …   Universalium

  • unenforceable — adjective Resistant to enforcement. Ant: enforceable …   Wiktionary

  • unenforceable — adj. not enforceable, not capable of being enforced …   English contemporary dictionary

  • unenforceable — adjective (especially of an obligation or law) impossible to enforce …   English new terms dictionary

  • unenforceable — un·enforceable …   English syllables