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Cover Complete Contract Law

15. Undue Influence, Unconscionability, and Equality of Bargaining Power  

This chapter examines undue influence, which is largely about pressure and influence arising from a relationship. It begins with the basic role of the law on undue influence before moving to the substantive case law. The case law is divided into three categories, which are based on the different ways of proving undue influence. The first relates to what is known as ‘actual undue influence’, which is where a complainant proves undue influence. The second is where undue influence between two parties can be presumed from the circumstances. The third category has been a major problem in modern cases and it involves undue influence coming from a third party. The chapter then turns to the wider issues that complete the ‘bigger picture’. The first of these is the area often referred to as ‘unconscionability’, which is about the exploitation of weakness. The second is the attempt to create a wider ‘inequality of bargaining power’ principle. Finally, the chapter looks at the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Practices Regulations 2008, which can cover conduct otherwise classed as duress, undue influence, and harassment.

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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 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 Koffman, Macdonald & Atkins' Law of Contract

22. Additional chapter: Capacity  

This chapter considers the scope of contractual capacity, noting the tension in the law between the need to protect someone who is incapacitated and the desire to not treat too harshly the person dealing fairly with the incapacitated person. The general rule is that a minor will not be bound by a contract, although the person contracting with them will be. There are exceptions which will bind both parties unless the minor repudiates, and on becoming 18 a minor may ratify a contract made before that date. The law recognizes the general incapacity to contract of minors, the mentally incapacitated, and in certain circumstances where an individual is intoxicated. An adult of sound mind has full contractual capacity, although they may be able to claim that the contract is not enforceable on some other basis, for example undue influence.

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 JC Smith's The Law of Contract

18. Undue influence  

This chapter examines ‘undue influence’. In a typical case, C claims that a transaction should be set aside because C reposed trust and confidence in D, and the influence that D had upon C was exerted in a way which was ‘undue’. The effect is to render a contract voidable such that it can be rescinded. The basis of undue influence is controversial: it has been argued both that undue influence is based upon D’s exploitation of the relationship, and that the focus is solely upon C’s impaired consent. There are two ways of proving undue influence, which explains actual undue influence and presumed undue influence. Actual undue influence is distinct, though there are overlapping areas, from duress since there is no need to prove a threat or illegitimate pressure. Presumed undue influence requires C to prove that C placed trust in D and that the transaction calls for explanation.

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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 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.

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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

Royal Bank of Scotland v Etridge (No.2) [2001] UKHL 44  

Essential Cases: Contract Law provides a bridge between course textbooks and key case judgments. This case document summarizes the facts and decision in Royal Bank of Scotland v Etridge (No. 2) [2001] UKHL 44. The document also includes supporting commentary from author Nicola Jackson.

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Cover Essential Cases: Contract Law 5e

Royal Bank of Scotland v Etridge (No.2) [2001] UKHL 44  

Essential Cases: Contract Law provides a bridge between course textbooks and key case judgments. This case document summarizes the facts and decision in Royal Bank of Scotland v Etridge (No. 2) [2001] UKHL 44. 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.

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 Contract Law

19. Undue Influence  

This chapter discusses cases of alleged undue influence. Such cases have caused considerable difficulties for the courts in recent years, not in relation to the existence of the doctrine, but to its scope and its relationship with other doctrines, particularly duress, and other cases in which courts have intervened to protect the vulnerable or those who have been exploited by those in a position of influence over them. Recent judicial exposition of undue influence has tended to take place in the context of three-party cases rather than two-party cases, that is to say cases in which a wrong has been committed by a third party and not the defendant. Two leading cases of undue influence are analysed: Allcard v. Skinner (1887) 36 Ch D 145 and Royal Bank of Scotland plc v. Etridge (No 2) [2001] UKHL 44, [2002] 2 AC 773 and they are used to illustrate the limits of the modern doctrine of undue influence and in particular the role of presumptions in this area of the law.

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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).

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Cover Contract Law

9. Unfairness: undue influence, non-commercial guarantees, unconscionable bargains  

This chapter examines three doctrines that allow a party to set aside a contract: (1) undue influence, which deals with the abuse of relationships of trust and confidence; (2) a doctrine protecting non-commercial parties who guarantee another’s debts; and (3) unconscionable bargains, which deals with the exploitation of bargaining weaknesses. It discusses: (i) the justification for these doctrines; (ii) the burden of proof for undue influence, unfair non-commercial guarantees, and unconscionable bargains; (iii) how each element of the respective burdens of proof is satisfied; and (iv) whether the law is satisfactory, and if not, how it might be developed in the future.

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.

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

11. Undue influence  

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 undue influence in a contract, which is a vitiating factor and also a ground of restitution. It explains that undue influence is hard to define and can more easily be recognised when found than exhaustively analysed in the abstract. This chapter investigates how undue influence is proved by means of a rebuttable presumption based on a relationship of trust and confidence coupled with a transaction that calls for an explanation, and how the resulting presumption is rebutted. It then covers the remedy of rescission for undue influence. Finally it explores undue influence in three-party cases, where relief depends on whether the contracting party had notice, actual or constructive, of the undue influence and whether it had taken reasonable steps.

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Cover Contract Law

12. The limits of hard bargaining  

Duress and undue influence

This chapter examines how English law sets limits to hard bargaining through the application of the doctrines of duress and undue influence. It first considers the problem of coercion in contractual transactions and how the doctrine of duress deals with coercion through the use of threats. It then discusses three key elements of duress: the impact of the pressure on the person who was subject to it, the need to prove illegitimacy, and the pressure must induce the decision to contract. It also describes remedies for duress and proceeds with an analysis of the scope and nature of undue influence, the elements of actual undue influence, presumed undue influence, remedies for undue influence, and specific issues that arise in relation to undue influence where third parties are involved. The chapter concludes with an overview of the regulation of aggressive practices.

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Cover Concentrate Questions and Answers Contract Law

7. Improper Pressure  

The Concentrate Questions and Answers series offers the best preparation for tackling exam questions. Each book includes typical questions, answer plans and suggested answers, author commentary, and other features. This chapter focuses on the doctrines of undue influence and duress. Between the parties to a con-tract there are broadly two ways that a contract can be avoided for undue influence: through affirmative proof of undue influence or through raising the presumption of undue influence which is not rebutted. As regards duress, there are two main forms: physical and economic. The more common type is economic duress, which focuses on the illegitimate pressure exerted by the dominant party.