In law, a transaction or action which is voidable is valid, but may be annulled by one of the parties to the transaction. Voidable is usually used in distinction to "
void ab initio" (or void from the outset) and unenforceable.
The act of invalidating the contract by the party exercising its rights to anul the voidable contract is usually referred to either as "voiding" the
contract(in the United States and Canada) or "avoiding" the contract (in the United Kingdom, Australia and other common lawcountries).
Black's Law Dictionary" (relevant to US law) defines voidable as follows:
Generally speaking, one party will have the right to elect whether to annul the transaction or to affirm it. The avoiding of a voidable transaction amounts to the rescinding it, or exercising a power of rescission, and as such is subject to the general law in that regard.
The right to rescind can be lost. In
common lawthere are generally said to be four "bars" to rescission, any one of which will cause the agreement to no longer be considered voidable.
# delay [In English law, see "Long v Lloyd"  1 WLR 753]
# affirmation (or ratification) [In English law, see "Leaf v International Galleries"  2 KB 86]
restitutio in integrum" being impossible [Or expressed in another way, it being impossible to put the parties back in their original positions; in English law, see "Vigers v Pike" (1842) 8 CI&F 562]
# third party rights [Usually where a third party acquires rights in property, in good faith and for value; in English law, see "Phillips v Brooks"  2 KB 243]
Although the law varies from country to country, most disputes relating to whether a transaction is void or voidable turn on the ability to transfer title to goods. In many jurisdictions, if a transaction is valid, but voidable, title to good still passes under the transaction, and the recipient may sell them with good title. If the transaction is void, no title passes, and the original seller can reclaim the goods. [See for example under English law, "Cundy v Lindsay" (1878) 3 App Cas 459 (described more fully in
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.