Difference Between Coercion and Undue Influence (With Table)

Various forms of forceful contracts exist in today’s world. Coercion and Undue Influence are two types of forceful contracts that are most common. While the two may seem similar, they have considerable differences.

Coercion vs Undue Influence 

The difference between coercion and undue influence is that coercion is a criminal act. On the other hand, Undue Influence is an unlawful act. There is no relationship among parties in case of coercion. In contrast, undue Influence comes into existence only when there is a relationship between parties.

Coercion refers to the act of compelling an individual or a party involuntarily by employing threats such as force. According to social philosophers, coercion is the exact opposite of freedom. The classification of coercion follows a procedure. Coercion may take on varied forms like blackmail, threats to induce favour, extortions, torture and sexual assault.

Undue Influence refers to an equitable doctrine wherein an individual takes advantage of a position of authority over another individual. The person in power usually uses their influence to facilitate decisions that best subserve their interests. There is a plethora of undue influence exercised in the financial markets of the world. 

Comparison Table Between Coercion vs Undue Influence 

Parameters of ComparisonCoercionUndue Influence 
DefinitionCoercion refers to the act of compelling an individual or a party in an involuntary manner by employing threats such as force.Undue Influence refers to an equitable doctrine wherein an individual takes advantage of a position of authority over another individual.
NatureCoercion has a physical nature at most times.Undue Influence has a moral nature at most times. 
Punishment The individual who commits coercion is punishable under IPC. The individual who exercises undue influence is not punishable under IPC. 
Relationship between PartiesThere is no relationship among parties in case of coercion.Undue Influence comes into existence only when there is a relationship between parties. 
Kind of ActCoercion results in a criminal act.Undue Influence results in an unlawful act. 

What is Coercion?

Coercion refers to the act of compelling an individual or a party involuntarily by employing threats such as force. Coercion involves various types of forceful actions that hamper the freedom of an individual and force them into performing the desired response. For example, a robbery may force an individual to give him all his money and valuable assets. 

Coercion may take on varied forms like blackmail, threats to induce favour, extortions, torture and sexual assault. Coercion is classified as a duress crime in law. Coercion may involve the use of physical force or any kind of psychological harm to increase the credibility of the threat. As a result, the prospect of further harm may produce obedient behaviour on the part of the respondent. 

According to social philosophers, coercion is the exact opposite of freedom. The classification of coercion follows a procedure. Firstly, it is distinguished based on the injury threatened, followed by the scope and aims of the injury. Conclusively, the last factor of differentiation is the effects of coercion on the victim. 

Physical injury is one of the most common approaches taken to coercion. However, in psychological coercion, there is a likely impact on the victim’s relationship with other people. Coercion has a practical application in international relations and domestic politics. A person who commits coercion is punishable under IPC. To conclude, coercion is a forceful practice that usually attracts punishment.

What is Undue Influence?

Undue Influence refers to an equitable doctrine wherein an individual takes advantage of a position of authority over another individual. Undue influence comes into place when one person can impact another person’s decision concerning the relation between the two parties. One party has higher authority in terms of education, status, or social ties. 

The person in power usually uses their influence to facilitate decisions that best subserve their interests. The degree of undue influence varies from one situation to another. It may be as small as one favour or as large as a million-dollar transaction. Various relationships may suffer from the incidence of undue influence. 

The relationship of a doctor and patient or teacher and student may be susceptible to undue influence due to the position of power of one of the individuals. Undue influence results in a gain for the powerful party and loss for the weaker party. There is a plethora of undue influence exercised in the financial markets of the world. 

To prove the occurrence of undue influence, an individual must provide reasons of susceptibility to undue influence, and explain how the party exercised undue influence. Thereafter, the victim has to explain the occurrence of undue influence and present the contract signed between the powerful party and the victim. 

Main Differences Between Coercion and Undue Influence 

  1. Coercion refers to the act of compelling an individual or a party involuntarily by employing threats such as force. In contrast, undue Influence refers to an equitable doctrine wherein an individual takes advantage of a position of authority over another individual.
  2. Coercion has a physical nature at most times. On the other hand, undue influence has a moral nature at most times. 
  3. There is no relationship among parties in case of coercion. In contrast, undue Influence comes into existence only when there is a relationship between parties.
  4. Coercion results in a criminal act. On the other hand, undue Influence results in an unlawful act. 
  5. The individual who commits coercion is punishable under IPC. In contrast, the individual who exercises undue influence is not punishable under IPC. 

Conclusion

Thus, coercion and undue influence have considerable differences. Coercion involves various types of forceful actions that hamper the freedom of an individual and force them into performing the desired response. In contrast, the degree of undue influence varies from one situation to another. It may be as small as one favour or as large as a million-dollar transaction.

Coercion has a physical nature at most times. On the other hand, undue influence has a moral nature at most times. To prove the occurrence of undue influence, an individual must provide reasons of susceptibility to undue influence, and explain how the party exercised undue influence. To conclude, coercion and undue influence have differences. 

References

  1. https://www.jstor.org/stable/1089336 
  2. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1467-8519.2012.01972.x
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