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Chapter

Cover Complete Contract Law

14. Duress  

This chapter discusses duress, a word associated with a threat that forces someone to do something. It is not difficult to imagine this in a context of contracts. The typical hypothetical example would be a party that signs a contract at gunpoint. Entering a contract under duress in this fashion means that the consent to the contract was impaired by the wrongdoing. This means that duress is another vitiating factor, like misrepresentation, and therefore it results in the contract being voidable. The chapter examines the law relating to contracts made as a result of duress. It starts with the role of the law and the shape of the area, which provides a brief overview of the development of the duress principle. The chapter then turns to the initial categories of duress, and with each it explores the principles arising from the case law and the scope of the duress principle in those contexts. Of these categories, economic duress and lawful act duress are the most recent to have evolved, and they are particularly interesting because they continue to be the subject of judicial and academic debate. The chapter’s final issue concerns the remedies for duress, and a key issue here is the question of whether duress can result in a claim for damages.

Book

Cover Contract Law Directions

Richard Taylor and Damian Taylor

Without assuming prior legal knowledge, books in the Directions series introduce and guide readers at undergraduate level through key points of law and legal debate. Questions, diagrams, and exercises help readers to engage fully with each subject and check their understanding as they progress. Contract Law Directions is a comprehensive guide, now in its eighth edition, to all aspects of contract law. It is structured in four parts. Part 1 looks at the creation of obligations. It considers agreement, intention to create legal regulations, and consideration and estoppel. Part 2 is about contents and borders and looks at positive terms, exemption clauses, and misrepresentation. Part 3 examines defects in terms of mistake, duress, undue influence, and unconscionable bargains. The final part explains finishing and enforcing obligations. It analyses frustration, damages, specific remedies, and privity and the interests of third parties.

Chapter

Cover Contract Law Directions

9. Duress, undue influence and unconscionable bargains  

Without assuming prior legal knowledge, books in the Directions series introduce and guide readers through key points of law and legal debate. Questions, diagrams and exercises help readers to engage fully with each subject and check their understanding as they progress. This chapter focuses on the principles applicable where a contract is entered into after there have been threats or improper influence brought to bear on one party or where the one-sided nature of the contract suggests that one party has been taken advantage of. The discussions cover duress (duress and pressure, threats against the person, threats against goods and economic duress); undue influence (actual undue influence, presumed undue influence and third-party cases); and unfairness and unconscionable bargains.

Chapter

Cover Essential Cases: Contract Law

Times Travel (UK) Ltd v Pakistan International Airlines Corporation [2021] UKSC 40; [2021] 3 WLR 727  

Essential Cases: Contract Law provides a bridge between course textbooks and key case judgments. This case document summarizes the facts and decision in Times Travel (UK) Ltd v Pakistan International Airlines Corporation [2021] UKSC 40; [2021] 3 WLR 727. The document also includes supporting commentary from author Nicola Jackson.

Chapter

Cover Essential Cases: Contract Law 5e

Times Travel (UK) Ltd v Pakistan International Airlines Corporation [2021] UKSC 40; [2021] 3 WLR 727  

Essential Cases: Contract Law provides a bridge between course textbooks and key case judgments. This case document summarizes the facts and decision in Times Travel (UK) Ltd v Pakistan International Airlines Corporation [2021] UKSC 40; [2021] 3 WLR 727. The document also includes supporting commentary from author Nicola Jackson.

Chapter

Cover Contract Law Directions

9. Duress, undue influence and unconscionable bargains  

Without assuming prior legal knowledge, books in the Directions series introduce and guide readers through key points of law and legal debate. Questions, diagrams and exercises help readers to engage fully with each subject and check their understanding as they progress. This chapter focuses on the principles applicable where a contract is entered into after there have been threats or improper influence brought to bear on one party or where the one-sided nature of the contract suggests that one party has been taken advantage of. The discussions cover duress (duress and pressure, threats against the person, threats against goods and economic duress); undue influence (actual undue influence, presumed undue influence and third-party cases); and unfairness and unconscionable bargains.

Chapter

Cover Contract Law

18. Duress  

A contract can be set aside on the ground that it has been entered into under duress. This chapter presents cases illustrating the different forms of duress, namely duress of the person, duress of goods, and economic duress. The case-law establishes that there are two principal elements to a duress claim: (i) lack of consent/coercion of the will and (ii) the illegitimacy of the pressure exerted. There is a third element necessary in cases of economic duress, namely the lack of a reasonable alternative to giving in to the pressure or the threat. The chapter examines the idea of ‘illegitimacy’, in particular whether a threat to breach a contract is always illegitimate and the controversial question of the scope of ‘lawful act’ duress.

Chapter

Cover Contract Law

8. Duress  

The doctrine of duress allows a complainant to set aside the contract if the other party exerted illegitimate pressure on her to enter the contract. This chapter discusses: (1) the justification for the duress doctrine; (2) the elements that must be proved for duress to the person, to property, economic duress, and lawful act duress; (3) the sorts of pressures regarded as illegitimate by the law; (4) the necessary effect of the illegitimate threat on the other party; (5) whether the current law on duress is satisfactory, and if not, how it might be developed in the future; and (6) the protection of consumers against aggressive commercial practices.

Chapter

Cover Anson's Law of Contract

10. Duress, Undue Influence, and Unconscionable Bargains  

Jack Beatson, Andrew Burrows, and John Cartwright

This chapter discusses the nature and operation of duress, undue influence, and unconscionable bargains. Duress and undue influence occur where one party to a contract has coerced the other or exercised such domination that the other’s independence of decision was substantially undermined. In the limited category of cases in which the doctrine of unconscionable bargains operates, it is necessary to show not only that the process by which the contract was made was unfair but that there is contractual imbalance, i.e., the doctrine extends to the actual substance of the contract and the fairness of its terms. Conduct which constitutes duress or undue influence by a trader against a consumer may also constitute a ‘prohibited practice’ under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, which will give the consumer ‘rights to redress’ under the Regulations.

Chapter

Cover O'Sullivan & Hilliard's The Law of Contract

10. Duress  

Titles in the Core Text series take the reader straight to the heart of the subject, providing focused, concise, and reliable guides for students at all levels. This chapter examines contracts induced by duress, which is a vitiating factor. It explains that duress involves one party coercing or pressuring the other party into making a contract and its most important feature is that it generally involves pressure applied by means of an illegitimate threat. It discusses the different types of duress—duress to the person, duress of goods, and focusing in more detail on economic duress and its various requirements. It explores the controversial question of whether relief should be extended to cases of lawful act duress such as threats not to contract, which as the law currently stands is in very exceptional situations only.

Book

Cover Koffman, Macdonald & Atkins' Law of Contract
Koffman, Macdonald & Atkins’ Law of Contract provides a clear, academically rigorous, account of the contract law which is written in a style which makes it highly accessible to university students new to legal study. It works from extensive consideration of the significant cases, to provide students with a firm grounding in the way the common law functions. There are chapters on formation, certainty, consideration, promissory estoppel, intention to create legal relations, express and implied terms, classification of terms, exemption clauses, the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977, unfair terms in consumer contracts, mistake, misrepresentation, duress and undue influence, illegality, unconscionability, privity, performance and breach, frustration, damages, and specific enforcement, as well as companion website chapters on capacity and an outline of the law of restitution. Recent cases which are of particular note in this, the tenth edition, include the Supreme Court cases of: Wells v Devani (2019) on interpretation and implied terms, Pakistan International Airlines Corporation v Times Travel (UK) Limited (2021) on lawful act economic duress, Morris- Garner v One-Step (Support) Ltd (2019) and Triple Point Technology Inc v PTT Public Company Ltd (2021) on the law of damages, and Tillman v Egon Zehnder (2019) on illegality and severance, re-affirmed in the Court of Appeal ruling in Quantum Actuarial LLP v Quantum Advisory Ltd (2021). Further important Court of Appeal decisions include: TRW v Panasonic (2021) on ‘battle of the forms’, Ark Shipping v Silverburn Shipping (2019) on classification of terms, FSHC Holdings v GLAS Trust (2019) on the equitable remedy of rectification, considered within the chapter on the doctrine of mistake, and Classic Maritime Inc v Limbungan Makmur (2019) on the interpretation of force majeure clauses and the scope of the doctrine of frustration, issues which rapidly elevated in significance leading up to Brexit and upon the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. Notable first instance decisions which have tested frustration in light of these events include Canary Wharf (BP4) T1 Ltd and others v European Medicines Agency (2019) in the context of Brexit, and Salam Air SAOC v Latam Airlines Group SA (2020) on the impact of Covid-19. Additional High Court rulings considered within this edition include Sheikh Tahnoon Bin Saeed Bin Shakhboot Al Nehayan v Ioannis Kent (2018) and Bates v Post Office Ltd (2019) on good faith, and Neocleous v Rees (2019) on electronic signatures coupled with the findings of the Law Commission Report on Electronic Execution of Documents (2019) Law Com No 386.

Chapter

Cover JC Smith's The Law of Contract

17. Duress  

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.

Chapter

Cover Essential Cases: Contract Law

Stilk v Myrick [1809] EWHC KB J58; (1809) 2 Camp 317  

Essential Cases: Contract Law provides a bridge between course textbooks and key case judgments. This case document summarizes the facts and decision in Stilk v Myrick [1809] EWHC KB J58; (1809) 2 Camp 317. The document also includes supporting commentary from author Nicola Jackson.

Chapter

Cover Essential Cases: Contract Law 5e

Stilk v Myrick [1809] EWHC KB J58; (1809) 2 Camp 317  

Essential Cases: Contract Law provides a bridge between course textbooks and key case judgments. This case document summarizes the facts and decision in Stilk v Myrick [1809] EWHC KB J58; (1809) 2 Camp 317. The document also includes supporting commentary from author Nicola Jackson.

Chapter

Cover Poole's Textbook on Contract Law

10. Duress, undue influence, and unconscionable bargains  

Robert Merkin, Séverine Saintier, and Jill Poole

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.

Chapter

Cover Contract Law Concentrate

10. Duress and undue influence  

Each Concentrate revision guide is packed with essential information, key cases, revision tips, exam Q&As, and more. Concentrates show you what to expect in a law exam, what examiners are looking for, and how to achieve extra marks. The doctrines of duress and undue influence may result in a contract being set aside (the remedy of rescission) where illegitimate pressure has been used in the contracting process. This chapter focuses on instances where the agreement cannot stand in light of duress or undue influence, including instances where the duress or undue influence was exercised by a third party and the contracting party had notice of that duress or undue influence.

Chapter

Cover Poole's Casebook on Contract Law

10. Duress, undue influence, and unconscionable bargains  

Robert Merkin and Séverine Saintier

Poole’s Casebook on Contract Law provides a comprehensive selection of case law that addresses all aspects of the subject encountered on undergraduate courses. This chapter examines further vitiating factors which relate to the way in which the contract was entered into and render it voidable. It discusses the doctrines of duress and undue influence and whether contracts are affected by a general doctrine of unconscionability relating to the manner of formation and content relative to the nature and position of the contracting parties. The doctrine of economic duress allows for any contract to be set aside where unlawful threats to financial position were made in order to secure agreement. This doctrine is still evolving but represents a mechanism to prevent the enforceability of promises not freely given. Under the doctrine of undue influence, a contract may be set aside if one party has put unfair and improper pressure on the other in the negotiations leading up to the contract. The courts of equity have developed undue influence as one of the grounds of relief to prevent abuse of the influence of one person over another, particularly where the influence results from the nature of the relationship between the parties. The chapter examines types of undue influence, actual undue influence, presumed (or evidential) undue influence, undue influence exercised by a third party, the legal effect of undue influence, and the relationship between undue influence and unconscionability.

Chapter

Cover Poole's Casebook on Contract Law

10. Duress, undue influence, and unconscionable bargains  

Robert Merkin KC, Séverine Saintier, and Jill Poole

Poole’s Casebook on Contract Law provides a comprehensive selection of case law that addresses all aspects of the subject encountered on undergraduate courses. This chapter examines further vitiating factors which relate to the way in which the contract was entered into and render it voidable. It discusses the doctrines of duress and undue influence and whether contracts are affected by a general doctrine of unconscionability relating to the manner of formation and content relative to the nature and position of the contracting parties. The doctrine of economic duress allows for any contract to be set aside where unlawful threats to financial position were made in order to secure agreement. This doctrine is still evolving but represents a mechanism to prevent the enforceability of promises not freely given. Under the doctrine of undue influence, a contract may be set aside if one party has put unfair and improper pressure on the other in the negotiations leading up to the contract. The courts of equity have developed undue influence as one of the grounds of relief to prevent abuse of the influence of one person over another, particularly where the influence results from the nature of the relationship between the parties. The chapter examines types of undue influence, actual undue influence, presumed (or evidential) undue influence, undue influence exercised by a third party, the legal effect of undue influence, and the relationship between undue influence and unconscionability.

Chapter

Cover Koffman, Macdonald & Atkins' Law of Contract

14. Duress and undue influence  

This chapter looks at the effect of duress or undue influence on the making of a contract. The difficulty is identified of distinguishing hard bargaining from economic duress, when the ‘threat’ is to the economic interest of the party ‘threatened’. This raises the question of what amounts to an illegitimate threat; whether a threat which is not otherwise legally labelled as wrongful will suffice (lawful act economic duress), and whether all threatened breaches of contract do so. The question also arises as to a test of a ‘reasonable’, or ‘practical’, alternative to agreeing. Undue influence is concerned with the surrender of decision making because of the relationship of the parties whether through domination or trust. The presumptions that arise in relation to undue influence, and when they arise, are examined. Consideration is given to the treatment of aggressive and misleading trade practices under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations (as amended by the Consumer Protection (Amendment) Regulations 2014).

Book

Cover O'Sullivan & Hilliard's The Law of Contract
Titles in the Core Text series take the reader straight to the heart of the subject, providing focused, concise, and reliable guides for students at all levels. The Law of Contract provides a concise overview of the fundamentals of contract law and its underlying rationales. It also introduces and explores the main academic debates within the subject, encouraging readers to reflect on the law and, where it is controversial, to form their own views on whether the rules that contract law adopts are justifiable.