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What are duress and undue influence in contract law?

Airtract

Prabha Yadev

Life is but a walking shadow

Before entering into the discussion regarding duress and undue influence, it is first required to know well about the meaning and actual definition of the term Contract. Contracts are certain documentation and recorded sets of rules, terms or conditions which are created by the mutual consents and assents made between two parties. In other words, when two independent parties discuss over certain similar possessions or property or anything, they create some rules and regulations which are required to be followed and accepted by both to avoid any future disputes. These written, recorded and signed documentation are called contracts.  But many times it has been seen that these authentic and simple procedures are not maintained while developing a Contract. When mutual consents and assent are not present between the two parties, and there are a question and position of force or threat or taking advantage, then arises duress or undue influence in Contract Law. These are the two factors which are responsible for making a Contract voidable or void. In this article, we will discuss duress and undue influence.

Duress

As you know that a Contract is valid when it has assent and consents from both the parties. If a Contract is created without the consent of both the parties and any of the party is forced to sign that contract, then it is called duress. Here both the parties are not entering into the contract freely. Duress can be of two types:

Physical duress: Here any of the party is physically forced to enter into the contract.

Duress by threatening: Here any of the party is threatened to enter into the contract.

Duress is a wrongful act, and it violates the rule for the contract as there is a question of deprivation and coercion.

Undue influence
Undue influence is not filled with coercion or force like duress. Here the rule of Contract is being violated by any of the individuals who is believed as a reliable one by the owner. In other words, in undue influence, the relationship of trust or confidentiality is being misused by any party and either party is not aware of it. Undue influence is also a wrongful act, but the percentage of force or coercion is not applied here as it is being applied in duress. 

There are many cases presented before the Court which are required to be solved from the hands of duress and undue influence.

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