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Part IV Vitiation, 13 Duress

From: Contract Law in Practice

Neil Andrews

From: Oxford Legal Research Library (http://olrl.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 18 April 2024

Construction of contract — Validity of contract

A coerced agreement can be set aside, in accordance with a Common Law doctrine of duress which has acquired generality during the last fifty years (although it remains customary to divide the topic into three sectors, duress as to person, duress as to goods, and economic duress, that is the threat to break a contract). The four elements of duress are: (i) pressure or a threat; (ii) which is (a) unlawful or (b) illegitimate (despite being lawful); (iii) objectively there was enough pressure so that the coerced party’s submission was not an instance of undue fragility; and instead the coerced party had no real or practical choice other than to submit; and (iv) the coerced party was in fact induced by the duress to enter the contract or agree to its variation or termination. The current controversy is when a threat to do something which is lawful can be characterized as ‘illegitimate’.

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