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Poole's Textbook on Contract Law

Poole's Textbook on Contract Law (15th edn)

Robert Merkin QC and Séverine Saintier
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date: 22 June 2024

p. 41110. Duress, undue influence, and unconscionable bargainslocked

p. 41110. Duress, undue influence, and unconscionable bargainslocked

  • Robert Merkin, Robert MerkinProfessor of Commercial Universities of Reading and Exeter
  • Séverine SaintierSéverine SaintierAssociate Professor in Commercial Law Exeter Law School, University of Exeter
  •  and Jill PooleJill Poole50th Anniversary Professor of Commercial Law and Head of Aston Law Deputy Dean, Aston Business School, Aston University


Course-focused and comprehensive, Poole’s Textbook on Contract Law provides an accessible overview of the key areas on the law curriculum. This chapter examines the doctrines of duress and undue influence, both of which provide a means for a person to avoid a concluded contract into which he entered due to threats or unfair pressures or influence exerted on him. It also looks at the circumstances in which the courts or Parliament have intervened to prevent one party from taking advantage of another. Duress refers to some form of coercion or threat to the person, property, or to a person’s financial interests (economic duress). Undue influence can arise if there is illegitimate pressure and abuse exerted by one party over the other (actual undue influence) or if something in the transaction is suspicious or calls for an explanation (evidential undue influence). The chapter also considers unconscionable bargaining, procedural and substantive unfairness, consumer legislation, and the link between unconscionability and undue influence.

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