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JC Smith's The Law of Contract

JC Smith's The Law of Contract (3rd edn)

Paul S. Davies
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date: 26 May 2024

p. 26417. Duresslocked

p. 26417. Duresslocked

  • Paul S. Davies


Duress occurs when B exerts illegitimate pressure upon A to enter into a contract, leaving A with no reasonable practical alternative but to enter into that contract. Duress is founded upon a threat made by B to A, but there is no tort of duress. However, duress will render a contract voidable. This chapter considers the two principal forms of duress. The first is physical act duress, where A’s physical integrity is threatened. The second is economic duress, where A’s economic interests are threatened. Particularly in the context of economic duress, it is important that the threats caused A to enter into the agreement, and that A had no reasonable alternative but to succumb to the threat. As a general rule, any threatened breach of contract can constitute illegitimate pressure. In some instances, even a threat to carry out a lawful act may, perhaps, ground a claim in duress.

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