Economic Duress in UK Law

Leading Cases
  • Dimskal Shipping Company SA v International Transport Workers Federation (The Evia Luck)
    • House of Lords
    • 07 Nov 1991

    However, since the decisions of Kerr J. in Occidental Worldwide Investment Corporation v. Skibs, A/S Avanti (The Siboen and the Sibotre) [1976] 1 Lloyd's Rep. 293, of Mocatta J. in North Ocean Shipping Co. Ltd. v. Hyundai Construction Co. Ltd. [1979] Q.B. 705, and of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in Pao On v. Lau Yiu Long [1980] A.C. 614, that limitation has been discarded; and it is now accepted that economic pressure may be sufficient to amount to duress for this purpose, provided at least that the economic pressure may be characterised as illegitimate and has constituted a significant cause inducing the plaintiff to enter into the relevant contract (see Barton v. Armstrong [1976] A.C. 104 at p. 121 per Lord Wilberforce and Lord Simon of Glaisdale (referred to with approval in Pao On v. Lau Yiu Long [1980] A.C 614, 635, per Lord Scarman); and Crescendo Management Pty. Ltd. v. Westpac Banking Corporation (1988) 19 N.S.W.L.R. 40, 46, per McHugh J.A.).

    It follows therefore that, prima facie at least, whether or not economic pressure amounts to duress sufficient to justify avoidance of the relevant contract by the innocent party is a matter for the proper law of the contract, wherever that pressure has been exerted. The question then arises whether there is any basis in law for rejecting this simple approach, on the ground that the conduct in question was lawful by the law of the place where it occurred, viz. Swedish law.

  • Dimskal Shipping Company S.A. v International Transport Workers Federation (No. 2) (Evia Luck)
    • Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
    • 11 Dic 1989

    In my judgment a similar approach should be adopted for the purpose of determining in the field of industrial relations whether economic pressure applied abroad is or is not legitimate.In my judgment a similar approach should be adopted for the purpose of determining in the field of industrial relations whether economic pressure applied abroad is or is not legitimate.

  • Universe Tankships Inc. of Monrovia v International Transport Workers Federation (Marine)
    • House of Lords
    • 01 Abr 1982

    It is, however, in my view crucial to the decision of the instant appeal to identify the rationale of this development of the common law. The rationale is that his apparent consent was induced by pressure exercised upon him by that other party which the law does not regard as legitimate, with the consequence that the consent is treated in law as revocable unless approbated either expressly or by implication after the illegitimate pressure has ceased to operate on his mind.

    Commercial pressure, in some degree, exists wherever one party to a commercial transaction is in a stronger bargaining position than the other party.

    Compulsion is variously described in the authorities as coercion or the vitiation of consent. The classic case of duress is, however, not the lack of will to submit but the victim's intentional submission arising from the realisation that there is no other practical choice open to him.

  • Williams v Roffey Bros & Nicholls (Contractors) Ltd
    • Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
    • 23 Nov 1989

    For my part I wish to make it plain that I do not base my judgment upon any reservation as to the correctness of the law long ago enunciated in Stilk v. Myrick. A gratuitous promise, pure and simple, remains unenforceable unless given under seal. But where, as in this case, a party undertakes to make a payment because by so doing it will gain an advantage arising out of the continuing relationship with the promisee the new bargain will not fail for want of consideration.

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Legislation
  • Treaty of Peace (ROUMANIA) Order, 1948
    • UK Non-devolved
    • 1 de Enero de 1948
    ...... property at present in Hungary which was removed by force or duress by any of the Axis Powers from the territory of any of the United Nations, .... PART VI.—ECONOMIC CLAUSES . ARTICLE 26 . 1. In so far as Hungary has not already done so, ......
  • Treaty of Peace (ROUMANIA) Order, 1948
    • UK Non-devolved
    • 1 de Enero de 1948
    ...... property at present in Bulgaria which was removed by force or duress by any of the Axis Powers from the territory of any of the United Nations, .... PART VI.—ECONOMIC CLAUSES . ARTICLE 23 . 1. In so far as Bulgaria has not already done so, ......
  • Treaty of Peace (ROUMANIA) Order, 1948
    • UK Non-devolved
    • 1 de Enero de 1948
    ...... property at present in Roumania which was removed by force or duress by any of the Axis Powers from the territory of any of the United Nations, .... PART VI.—ECONOMIC CLAUSES . ARTICLE 24 . 1. In so far as Roumania has not already done so, ......
  • Treaty of Peace (ROUMANIA) Order, 1948
    • UK Non-devolved
    • 1 de Enero de 1948
    ...... property at present in Italy which was removed by force or duress by any of the Axis Powers from the territory of any of the United Nations, .... PART X.—MISCELLANEOUS ECONOMIC PROVISIONS . ARTICLE 85 . The provisions of Annexes VIII, X, XIV, XV, ......
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Books & Journal Articles
  • Whither Economic Duress? Reflections on Two Recent Cases
    • Núm. 53-1, Enero 1990
    • The Modern Law Review
  • Understanding Intimidation
    • Núm. 77-1, Enero 2014
    • The Modern Law Review
    This article examines the gist, vitality and practical utility of the tort of intimidation and identifies what count as unlawful threats and as actionable harm. While two versions of the tort have ...
    ...... under the law of contract via the doctrines of anticipatory breach, duress and economic duress. The article concludes with two radical suggestions. ......
  • Contract, Consideration and the Critical Path
    • Núm. 53-4, Julio 1990
    • The Modern Law Review
    ...... although the case does not itself involve any element of duress, by relaxing the consideration requirement, it shifts the burden of regulating price re-negotiation on tlo the doctrine of economic duress.’ In Williams v Roffey , the defendants were main ......
  • Dures, Family Law and the Coherent Legal System
    • Núm. 57-6, Noviembre 1994
    • The Modern Law Review
    ...... November 1994) Duress, Family Law and the Coherent Legal System exercise the right ... Atiyah, ‘Economic Duress and the “Overborne Will”’ (1982) 98 LQR 197, at ......
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Law Firm Commentaries
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