The Element of Wrongful Pressure in a Finding of Duress


  • Nicholas Rafferty



The author expounds and criticizes the traditional notion that, in a claim for restitution based on duress, it must be shown that the victim was threatened with some unlawful action. After setting forth the common law development of duress, including comparisons between American and Commonwealth jurisprudence, the author argues that on occasion courts have shown a willingness to abandon the traditional view of what type of act must constitute wrongful pressure. In particular, some American courts have adopted a more flexible approach, using as a test of wrongful pressure, not the unlawfulness of the threatened act, but rather the coercive motive of the oppressor. Finally, the author discusses the possibility that duress could be extended to cover the situation where the threat involved is a denial of future contracts.