What is the Difference Between Coercion And Undue Influence?

Forums The Indian Contract Act, 1872 What is the Difference Between Coercion And Undue Influence?

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    • Coercion and undue influence are two parts of a whole, but they stand for different meanings. In both cases, some sort of influence is exerted on the other party, with the intention to force the party to enter into an agreement, or to enter into an agreement based on the terms and conditions of the party exerting influence. But the form of pressure exerted, the relationship between the parties, and the punishment for both the acts are different.
    • Coercion may or may not involve physical harm, and sometimes even a threat is enough to show coercion. Acts such as pointing a gun towards a person, or locking him/her up in a place from where he/she cannot escape, in order to make him/her agree on something, would constitute coercion. It is not necessary that if a gun is pointed, it should necessarily be used to fire. Mere pointing of a gun in such a way that it becomes a threat is enough to prove coercion. Also, coercion involves causing harm, physical or mental, to another person in whom the party being influenced is interested, or any property that may be of interest to that party.
    • However, undue influence rests on the relationship between the parties, and no physical or mental harm is caused to the party being influenced; it is more like a black-mail. The other party does something because of the authority that the party exercising undue influence holds, and that authority is being misused to achieve an unlawful end. It signifies the placing of confidence in the party exercising influence, and that confidence is abused to obtain an unfair advantage.
    • Both acts, coercion and undue influence, warrant the taking of consent through unlawful means. But this does not imply that the means through which consent is obtained in coercion is the same as the one in undue influence. Further, coercion involves the provisions of the Indian Penal Code, which makes coercion a criminal act. The IPC does not come into play in undue influence, and thus, it renders it a civil wrong.
    • Coercion may be carried out by strangers, but undue influence is only carried out by someone holding an authority over another person, i.e. the person being influenced.

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