What is The Meaning of Coercion in Contract Law?

What is The Meaning of Coercion in Contract Law?

What is the meaning of coercion in contract law? can be derived under section 15 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872. Definition of coercion is defined a

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What is the meaning of coercion in contract law? can be derived under section 15 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872. Definition of coercion is defined as 'Coercion is committing or threatening to commit, any act is forbidden by Indian Penal Code or the unlawful detaining or threatening to detain any property to the prejudice of any person to cause any person to enter into an agreement.'

So, the coercion can be defined as;

1. Committing or threatening to commit an act
2. Such act is forbidden by the Indian Penal Code or any other special laws or
3. Unlawful detaining or threatening to detain any property of the person
4. With intention of causing any person to enter into an agreement.

Example: A shows the gun and threatens to shoot B if B does not agree to sell his property to A at the price stated by A. Here, B's consent to sell his property is obtained under this.

What is coercion means in law?, in general, coercion meaning in English is compelling a party to act involuntarily by use of wrongful threats or force. And, the meaning of coercion in Hindi is Dabav (pressure) on the party to give consent to the contract.

Essentials of Coercion

1. Committing or threatening to commit any act

The first essential element of coercion is a person should commit or threaten to commit any illegal act to obtain the assent of the other person to enter into a contract.

The person must use force against the other person to commit any illegal act against or threaten him by the wrongful way to obtain the consent of that person to enter into a contract.

2. The act must be forbidden by the Indian Penal Code or Special Laws

The act committed by the person or threatening to commit any act which is illegal as per the Indian Penal Code, or any other Special Laws enforced in the country.

The person who committed or threatened to commit any illegal act as provided under the Indian Penal Code or any other Special Laws to obtain the consent of the person to enter into a contract wrongfully.

3. Unlawful detaining or threatening to detain any property 

Any person who wrongfully detains another person or threatens to detain the property of others to obtain the consent of that person to enter into a contract with that person.

4. With intention of causing any person to enter into a contract

The last essential element of coercion is intention. The person must all three above-mentioned elements with intention of causing another person to enter into a contract. These are essential elements of Coercion.

Effect of Coercion in Contract

As we discuss above the coercion is the use of force to obtain the consent of another person to enter into a contract wrongfully, if the agreement is caused under the effect of coercion, then two possibilities can occur;

1. The person whose consent was obtained due to coercion then has the option to agree on the forced contract

2. The person whose consent was obtained due to coercion can be challenged before the court of law, and the agreement can be held as void.

So, the person whose consent was obtained by coercive force has the power to make the contract valid or void. And, this is the situation of a voidable contract at the option of one party.

Chikkam Ammiraju vs Chikkam Seshamma, 1917:

In this case, the plaintiff threatens the defendant to commit suicide to issue realized deed of the property owned by the defendant in favour of the plaintiff's brother. And, the plaintiff gets property in favour of his brother.

The Madras High Court held that the threat to commit suicide comes under the meaning of section 15 of the Indian Contract Act, the deed is in avoidable nature.

Duress Meaning

Duress is much similar to coercion and can be found in English law. The duress in a contract consists of actual violence or threat of violence to a person and not against the property. It includes fear of loss to bodily harm including imprisonment, but not a threat of damage to goods

In the Indian Contract Act, the Coercion is much wider than the Duress. It included committing any illegal or threatening to commit any illegal act, coercion can be committed by any person even a person who is not a party to the contract. 

Difference Between Coercion and Duress

Coercion
Duress
Coercion is found under section 15 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872 Duress is found under English Law.

In coercion, the consent of the other party is obtained by committing or threatening to commit any act which is forbidden by the Indian Penal Code, 1860. In Duress, consent is obtained by the actual violence or threat of violence against the other party or his family members.
Unlawful detention of property or goods of the other party is a kind of coercion. Unlawful detention of property is not duressing under English Law.
Immediate violence is not an essential element of coercion Immediate violence is an essential element of duress.
Coercion can be done against any person even a stranger to the contract.

Duress can be done only against the life or liability of a party to the contract or against his family members.

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