Essay about Contract Law

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Contract Law The law of contract recognises that an agreement is dependent on consent and this, therefore, implies that an agreement obtained by threats or undue persuasion will be insufficient. Many contracts in practise involve a degree of 'arm twisting' and this raises the question as to what level of pressure is acceptable to exert over another contracting party? This problem is dealt with by the common law doctrine of duress and the equitable doctrine of undue influence. The courts have developed these doctrines over a long period of time and since the Judicature Act 1873 it has been the duty of all courts to administer both doctrines concurrently. Both common law and equity agree that a…show more content…
Not all pressure is illegitimate; indeed, not all threats are illegitimate. In the course of normal commercial activity, pressure and even threats occur regularly and are often perfectly proper. Consequently it is essential to distinguish between forms of pressure that are legitimate and those that are not. The scope of duress was originally very limited in its application and was confined to actual or threatened unlawful physical violence. The case of Barton v Armstrong (1976)[1] illustrates an important limitation on legal duress in that the actual violence, or threat of violence, must be against the person and calculated to cause fear of bodily harm or loss of life. Not surprisingly, duress is a part of the law which nowadays seldom raises an issue. This limitation was open to the objection that it failed to give adequate consideration to the coercive effect of other illegitimate conduct or threats. Originally the courts would not acknowledge 'duress of goods', i.e. a threat to damage a person's property as constituting duress. This view is supported by a number of nineteenth century cases, the most notable of which is Skeate v Beale (1840)[2], where it was held that an agreement to pay money for the release of goods (that had been unlawfully obtained) was valid. It is certainly fair to say that duress of goods has developed rather

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