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The doctrine of duress is well established in English Law and allows a party to the contract to set aside the terms of an agreement by showing evidence that pressure or force from the other party was put on them against person or property when the agreement was formed The party subjected to the duress claims they had no choice but to enter the agreementEconomic duress is a relatively new development but is of increasing importance with notable consequences for parties entering into commercial agreementsThe Courts now acknowledge that in addition to threats against a person or their property the threat of economic could also force a party to sign an agreement This undue commercial pressure is known as economic duress and allows the innocent party to rescind the ContractPrior to the concept of economic duress being recognized the position in law was protected by the doctrine of consideration Consideration is the price one party pays for anothers promise The rule is that consideration must be sufficient but need not be adequate It was recognized that where one party had already contracted to perform a duty the original duty was not sufficient consideration for a promise of more money The leading case is Stilk v Myrick 1809 KB 317 REF1 where seamen could not claim an additional share of wages of those who deserted as they had not given further consideration for the promise of those extra wages they were already bound by an existing duty to serve as fully as possible on the ship The logic behind the reasoning is that a person entering into a contract who is in a very strong bargaining position may insist upon further payment to perform an existing duty and the other party to the contract may have no choice but to agree This possibility of extortion can be seen in Harris v Watson REF2 where it was held that as a matter of public policy sailors
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