Duress Is A Principle Of Law

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Introduction to Duress Duress is a principle recognized in most areas of law (including criminal law); Black’s Law Dictionary defines it as “threat of harm made to compel a person to do something against his or her will or judgment” . But with regard to contract it describes a situation whereby a party is induced by threats to enter into agreement with another. In Seear v Cohen a father signed promissory notes after being informed that proceedings will be brought against his son for allegedly misappropriating finds. It was held that such threats amounted to duress, and as such the father had the option to rescind the contract. As a general principle, duress can be a ground for which a party rescinds or sets aside a contract and claim damages. As such, it grants the reliant party to render the contract voidable . Duress is a logical extension of principles of contract, particularly relating to consent and the intention to create a legal relationship. This is because a person cannot technically be said to be giving his actual consent to a transaction if he is forced to enter it; as such, the person cannot be said to have consented to the transaction. Furthermore, a person cannot be said to intend to create legal relations if he enters into a contract forcefully. As such, the courts have held felt that duress has a similar effect to fraud; as “whether it springs from a fear or from a belief, the party has been subjected to an improper motive for action.” The Classic
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