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Duress, Undue Influence and Unconscionable Dealing

Duress, Undue Influence and Unconscionable Dealing
4th Edition
Series:  Contract Law Library
Practice Area:  Commercial Law, Contract Law
ISBN:  9780414110571
Published by:  Sweet & Maxwell
Publication Date:  31 May 2023
Format:  Hardback, Paperback, eBook - ProView
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Untitled Document

Duress, Undue, Influence and Unconscionable Dealing are grounds on which a contract can be set aside because the claimant was induced to enter into it by means which the law considers unacceptable. Professor Enonchong provides a detailed and rigorous analysis of the circumstances where an otherwise valid transaction can be avoided on each of these grounds.

Duress is a common law doctrine under which a contract may be avoided where the complainant was induced to enter into it by illegitimate pressure, such as a threat of physical violence, a threat to seize or damage property or economic pressure.

Undue Influence
There are two doctrines of undue influence: the equitable doctrine of undue influence is concerned with lifetime transactions (such as contracts), while the probate doctrine of undue influence is concerned with wills. The equitable doctrine of undue influence deals with cases where one person has acquired influence over another, and the ascendant person abuses that influence to induce the other person to enter into a lifetime transaction. It includes an evidential presumption of undue influence in certain cases. Probate undue influence applies in relation to wills. It allows the court to refuse to admit a will to probate where the testator was induced to sign the will by the exercise of undue influence. Unlike equitable undue influence, probate undue influence does not include an evidential presumption of undue influence.

Abuse of Confidence
The book also discusses the equitable doctrine of abuse of confidence, which is sometimes confused with, but is different from, the equitable doctrine of undue influence. The doctrine of abuse of confidence is concerned to protect a person (the principal) who has placed confidence in another person (the fiduciary) from abuse of that confidence in any transaction between the fiduciary and the principal (as where a solicitor buys property from his client).

Unconscionable dealing
Unconscionable dealing or unconscionable bargains is an equitable doctrine that provides protection to weaker parties in certain situations. The court will intervene on this ground to set aside a contract where, at the time of the contract: one party was suffering from some serious disadvantage, such as poverty, ignorance, illness, or otherwise, so that the circumstances existed of which unfair advantage could be taken; that weakness was exploited by the other party (“the stronger party”) in a morally reprehensible manner; and the resulting transaction is extremely one-sided in favour of the stronger party.


  • Provides comprehensive information on all aspects of duress, undue influence and unconscionable dealing and abuse of confidence.
  • Helps you deal with problems arising from a range of contractual disputes.
  • Explains the remedies and defences available in the context of the doctrines examined in this work.
  • Examines the different types of duress including duress to the person, duress of goods and economic duress.
  • Covers recent developments and case law relating to undue influence, including relevant Supreme Court and Court of Appeal decisions and commonwealth cases
  • Includes a comparative analysis of the approach in other jurisdictions, including Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Ireland, New Zealand, Scotland and Singapore.
  • Gives examples of how duress, undue influence, abuse of confidence and unconscionable dealing cases work in practice.
  • In the context of third party undue influence or misrepresentation, where the loan is to a company,provides a critical examination of the circumstances where the bank may not be put on inquiry.
  • Takes you through the detailed steps that a bank that is put on inquiry is required to take to avoid being fixed with constructive notice. 

What’s New in this 4th Edition

  • Chapter 3 has been extensively revised to reflect the authoritative statement of law relating to lawful act duress by the Supreme Court in Times Travel (UK) Ltd v Pakistan International Airways Corp (2021);
  • Chapter 4 has also been significantly revised to take account of developments in the case law.

Many new cases have been considered, including:

  • KSH Farm Ltd v KSH Plant Ltd [2021] EWHC 1986 (Ch) (causation for economic duress)
  • Al Saif Group v Cable [2022] EWHC 271 (QB) at [199] and [202] (lawful act duress – exploitation of knowledge of criminal activity)
  • Al-Subaihi v Al-Sanea [2021] EWHC 2609 (Comm) (lawful act duress - threat to institute civil proceedings that can lead to travel ban and/or asset freezing)
  • Morley v Royal Bank of Scotland Plc [2021] EWCA Civ 338 (duress – causation – where complainant negotiated a better deal after defendant’s threats)
  • Instagroup Ltd v Carroll [2022] EWHC 464 (QB) (duress – causation)
  • Bird v Lantern Recovery LLP [2021] EWHC 1379 (Ch) (presumption of undue influence – whether a transaction between mother and son was one that called for explanation)
  • Wood v Commercial First Business Ltd [2019] EWHC 2205 (Ch) (Whether the court needs to be satisfied that there has been wrongdoing or improper conduct before making a finding of undue influence)

And many more...

If you’re interested in firmwide or multiple user access to this title on Proview then please contact us directly to discuss what options are available.


Untitled Document
  • 1 General Introduction
  • 2 The Nature of Duress
  • 3 Is the Pressure Illegitimate?
  • 4 Causation and Absence of Reasonable Alternative
  • 5 Types of Duress
  • 6 Introduction to Part II
  • 7 Equitable Undue Influence
  • 8 Actual Undue Influence
  • 9 Presumed Undue Influence
  • 10 Presumed Undue Influence: A Relationship of Influence
  • 11 Presumed Undue Influence: A Transaction that calls for Explanation
  • 12 Rebutting the Presumption of Undue Influence
  • 13 Undue Influence in Probate Law
  • 14 Abuse of Confidence
  • 15 Introduction to Part III
  • 16 Was the Claimant at a serious Disadvantage?
  • 17 Is the Defendant’s Conduct Unconscionable?
  • 18 Is the Transaction Overreaching and Oppressive?
  • 19 Independent Advice
  • 20 Scope of Unconscionable Dealing
  • 21 Introduction to Part IV
  • 22 The Doctrine of Agency
  • 23 Actual and Constructive Notice
  • 24 Constructive Notice: When is a Party Put on Inquiry?
  • 25 Steps to be Taken by a Creditor Put on Inquiry
  • 26 Comparison with Equivalent Doctrines in Australia and Scotland
  • 27 Introduction to Part V; 
  • 28 Remedies
  • 29 Equitable Defences.


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