Updated: Sep 16, 2020
Coercion and Duress are two commonly confused terms under the Law of Contract. The term Duress corresponds to Coercion in English law. However, Coercion under the Indian Contract Law has a wider amplitude than Duress under the English Law.
According to Section 15 of the Indian Contract Act, “Coercion is the committing or threatening to commit, any fact forbidden by the Indian Penal Code, or the unlawful detaining, or threatening to detain, any property, to the prejudice of any person whatever, with the intention of causing any person to enter into an agreement.” The definition itself makes it clear that the commission or threatening to commit any act must be forbidden/prohibited by the Indian Penal Code.
In India coercion can also be there by detaining or threatening to detain any property.
Under Common Law, Duress is a situation whereby a person performs an act as a result of violence, threat or other pressure against the person. It includes doing an illegal act against a person, whether it is to be crime or tort. Duress is not confined to unlawful acts Forbidden by any specific penal law, as the Indian penal code in India. In England, duress is constituted by acts or threats against any person of a man and not against his property.
Coercion may proceed from a person who is not a party to the contract, and it may also be directed against a person who again, maybe a stranger to the contract BUT Duress should proceed from a party to the contract and is also directed against the party to the contract himself, or his wife, parent, child or other near relatives.
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