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Unmasking Duress: It happens more often than we are aware of

Last Will and Testament
Medina Mahlako

Medina Mahlako

· 5 min read

Consider a situation where someone suspects that duress was present during the drafting of a will. It could involve emotional manipulation, threats, or coercion to manipulate the person into leaving their assets to specific individuals.

Another scenario of duress can also be present in employment contracts. For example, if an employee is forced to sign an unfair contract under threat of losing their job or facing severe consequences, it could be considered duress. This deprives individuals of their bargaining power and freedom to negotiate fair terms.

Duress occurs when someone is coerced or manipulated into taking actions or making decisions against their will. It's like being backed into a corner, forced to do something you wouldn't choose willingly. It goes against the principles of consent and personal freedom.

Elements of Duress

Duress typically involves the following elements:

Coercion: The use of threats, force, or undue pressure.

Involuntary Action: The person's actions are not voluntary, but a result of the coercion.

No Reasonable Alternative: The person perceives no reasonable alternative but to comply with the coercive demands.

Protection and Remedies

Legal systems provide protection and remedies for individuals subjected to duress:

1. Voidable Contracts: Contracts entered into under duress can be declared void or voidable by the affected party.

2. Civil Remedies: Individuals subjected to duress may seek legal remedies, such as rescission (cancellation) of the contract or damages.

3. Criminal Consequences: In extreme cases, duress may be a criminal offence, and the person exerting the duress may face criminal charges.

Duress is a menacing force that violates our rights to autonomy and free will. Understanding its definition, elements, and various scenarios where it can arise sheds light on this unethical practice

Disclaimer: This post provides general information and should not be considered legal advice.