Key Difference – Coercion vs Undue Influence
Coercion and Undue influence are two different terms used when speaking of contracts or agreements. In some situations, people tend to use power, threats, etc. to convince another to agree to certain terms. These fall into the categories of coercion and undue influence. The key difference between coercion and undue influence is that while coercion refers to persuading using threats, undue influence is using the position of power of an individual to make a person agree to a contract. It must also be highlighted that although coercion is considered as an illegal activity for which the individual can be punished by law, this does not apply to undue influence although the agreement becomes voidable.
What is Coercion?
Coercion refers to persuading using threats. This is considered as unlawful because it uses threats to intimidate the person to enter into the agreement against his will. Coercion uses physical threats where the individual is denied any choice and must enter the agreement. There are many strategies that fall under coercion. Some of these are threatening to kill the individual, blackmailing, harming family members or loved ones, torturing the person, etc. Coercion is punishable by law in which case the agreement becomes voidable. For an example, a person can force another for a property transfer threatening that if not the family members would be killed. It is also important to highlight that for coercion a special relationship is not required between the parties involved.
What is Undue Influence?
Undue influence is using the position of power of an individual to make a person agree to a contract. A key difference between coercion and undue influence is that unlike in coercion where physical pressure is used; in undue influence, the person uses his position of power or even authority to mentally pressure the individual into the agreement. Once again, the individual enters into a contract against his free will.
Undue influence can occur in various power relationships, such as employer and employee, trustee and beneficiary, solicitor and client, and even a teacher and a student. In all these situations, those who have a higher level of authority and power use this power dynamic to control the weaker individual and benefit from it. For instance, an employer can make certain demands on an employee which are not ethical stating that if not he will be fired.
What is the difference between Coercion and Undue Influence?
Definitions of Coercion and Undue Influence:
Coercion: Coercion refers to persuading using threats.
Undue Influence: Undue influence is using the position of power of an individual to make a person agree to a contract.
Characteristics of Coercion and Undue Influence:
Coercion: Coercion uses physical pressure.
Undue Influence: Undue influence uses mental pressure.
Coercion: Coercion is punishable by law.
Undue Influence: Undue influence is not punishable by law although the agreement becomes voidable.
Coercion: The parties are not in any form of relationship.
Undue Influence: The parties are involved in some form of relationships such as employer and employee, trustee and beneficiary, solicitor and client, or a teacher and a student.
1. “Blackbeard, Buccaneer – Cover” by Frank E. Schoonover (1877–1972) – Paine, Ralph Delahaye (1922) “Cover” in Blackbeard, Buccaneer, Pennsylvania, United States: The Penn Publishing Company Retrieved on 21 April 2010.. [Public Domain] via Commons
2. “-The Blackmail” by Leon israel – Own work. [CC BY-SA 4.0] via Commons