This is an extract of our Duress Pq Notes document, which we sell as part of our Contract Law Notes collection written by the top tier of Oxford students.
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Duress may be a ground of restitution (A pays money to B as a result of B's duress, A uses duress as a cause of action in restitution to recover the money) or as a vitiating factor (A
enters into a contract or vary an existing contract with B as a result of B's duress, A uses duress as a defence when B attempts to enforce the contract or variation, or to rescind the contract or variation as against B).
Duress, like misrepresentation, is a vitiating factor. The bars to rescission are therefore also relevant. However, there is no equivalent with duress of the Misrepresentation Act 1967, and therefore no damages remedy to fall back upon.
Duress to the person (in outline)
Duress to Goods (in outline)
Previously, the doctrine of consideration dominated in the context of (coercive) increasing pacts (according to the rule in Stilk v Myrick, if B promised to pay A more for the same job,
the increasing pact was not supported by consideration because it did not involve A incurring detriment).
But in The Siboen and the Sibotre (1976), duress was extended to encompass economic duress, leaving the path free for a recrafting of the consideration doctrine in the context of increasing pacts (Williams v Roffey Bros & Nicholls). Consequently, A can now invoke the concept of a requested 'practical benefit' (A's willingness to proceed with the same job) to satisfy the consideration requirement. Duress operates independently of any consideration.
Remedy: rescission (consider bars to rescission) but not damages
There is no consolidated approach under English law, but the cases collectively evince the following criteria: (1) Illegitimate threat; which (2) subjectively caused A to contract; and where (3) objectively A had no reasonable alternative but to contract.
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