When a person enters a contract unwillingly, under certain illegitimate pressure the situation is considered as duress. Under duress, the consent of the victim (person pressurised illegally) is either partially or completely influenced by the actions of other party. Although the decision of entering into a contract is made by the victim, but the decision cannot be considered to be voluntary as the victim does not any other choice of action. In contrast to the narrow scope of the concept of duress, Undue Influence was developed. Both the concepts occur in situations due to inequality in power among the parties contracting, this allows the dominating party to influence the weaker party for entering into a contract. However, there is also some dissimilarity between both the concepts.
Duress involved pressuring people with use of illegal means like threating, damaging or creating violence, whereas undue influence involves other subtle influential factors like gifts in the form of cash, property, etc. The means used by one party for the creating undue influence on another party to enter into a contract are not always illegal. A significant difference between duress and undue influence is that in the former case the party been pressurised to enter into a contract is not left with any other alternative i.e. cannot refuse from entering into a contract. On the other hand, a party facing undue influence still has the option of refusing for the contract without getting affected by the influence.
Another dissimilarity between the two is that undue influence is made only on people in the form of express undue influence (the dominant party acts in such a way that the weaker party does not have a free will) and presumed undue influence (dominant party’s trust over the weaker party). Duress can be in the form of economic duress (involves economic, commercial or financial pressure) duress on person (threating or depriving the liberty of the contracting party or their relatives like children, spouse, parents, etc.), duress on goods (developing pressure to enter into a contract by damaging, ruining, illegally controlling the goods, etc.).