Duress (Ro.: violență – viciu de consimțământ, constrângere fizică/morală – cauză de înlăturare a răspunderii penale, Gr.: παράνομη βία ή απειλή, Cz.: nátlak) (See also: coercion, compulsion, constraint, blackmail, undue influence, self-defence, necessity) = wrongful violence or threat which coerces a person to do or not do something he/she would otherwise do.

(in contract law) An agreement under duress is not binding for the parties (void), as there is no valid consent from both parties.

(in criminal law) Duress is a valid defence, which means that the person who suffered the threat/violence will not be held responsible for his crime. 


Useful links

Legislation - French Civil Code, art. 1111-1115 [English] - Romanian Civil Code [Romanian]

Online articles

[Contract Law]  - Schwartz, A., Scott, R.E., 2003, Contract Theory and the Limits of Contract Law, in The Yale Law Journal, vol. 113, no. 3, pp. 565 [English]


[Contract law]

Treillard, J., 1963, La violence comme vice du consentement en droit comparé, Et. Laborde-Lacoste,  p. 419 [French]

Malaurie, P., Aynes, L., Stoffel-Munck, P., 2007, Droit Civil: Les obligations, Defrénois, Titre II, Sous-titre I, Chapitre II – Vices du consentement [French/Romanian]

Bar-Gill, O., Ben-Shahar, O., 2004, The Law of Duress and the Economics of Credible Threats, in Journal of Legal Studies, vol. 33, no. 2, pp. 391-430 [English]

Bigwood, R., 1996, Coercion in Contract: The Theoretical Constructs of Duress, in The University of Toronto Law Journal, vol. 46, no. 2, pp. 201-271 [English]

El-Wahab, A., El-Hassan, A., 1986, The Doctrine of Duress (Ikrah) in Shariā, Sudan and English Law, in Arab Law Quarterly, vol. 1, no. 2, pp. 231-236 [English]

McMeel, G., 1996, Breach of Contract and Refusal to Supply as Grounds for Duress, in Nottingham Law Journal, vol. 5, no. 120 [English]

Ogilvie, M. H., 2009-2010, Doing Practical Justice for Duress in Contract Law, in Alberta Law Review, vol. 47, no. 253 [English]

Ogilvie, M. H., 2001, Economic Duress in Contract: Departure, Detour or Dead-End, in Canadian Business Law Journal, vol. 34, no. 194 [English]

Glower, G., 2006, The test for duress in the South African Law of contract, in South African Law Journal, vol. 123, no. 1, pp. 98-125 [English]

Glower, G., 2006, Developing a test for economic duress in the South African law of contract: a comparative perspective, in South African Law Journal, vol. 123, no. 2, pp. 285-314 [English]

Steward, H., 2003, Economic Duress in Canadian Law: Towards a Principled Approach, in Canadian Bar Review, vol. 82, pp. 359-390 [English] – available for download:

Glower, G. B., 2003, The Doctrine of Duress in the Law of Contract and Unjustified Enrichment in South Africa, thesis – doctor of Philosophy of Rhodes University [English] – available at: 

[Criminal law]

Dressler, J. , 1988-1989, Exegesis of the Law of Duress: Justifying the Excuse and Searching for Its Proper Limits, in Southern California Law Review, vol. 62, p. 1331 [English]

Finkelstein, C. O., 1995, Duress: A Philosophical Account of the Defense in Law, in Arizona Law Review, vol. 37, no. 251 [English]

el Fadl, K. A., 1991, Common and Islamic Law of Duress, in Arab Law Quarterly, vol. 6, no. 121 [English] – available on registration on

Enker, A., 1996, Duress, Self-Defense and Necessity in Israeli Law, in Israel Law Review, vol. 30, no. 188 [English]

Rosenthal, P., 1989-1990, Duress in the Criminal Law, in Criminal Law Quaterly, vol. 31, no. 199 [English]

Bedi, M., 2011, Excusing Behavior: Reclassifying the Federal Common Law Defenses of Duress and Necessity Relying on the Victim's Role, in Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology, vol. 101, no. 575 [English]

[Int’l Human Rights Law]

Brooks, R.E., 2002-2003, Law in the Heart of Darkness: Atrocity & (and) Duress, in Virginia Journal of International Law, vol. 43, no. 861 [English]

rua Wall, I., 2006, Duress, International Criminal Law and Literature, in Oxford Journal of International Criminal Justice, vol. 4, no. 4, pp. 724-744 [English]

Bowers, A., 2003, A Concession to Humanity in the Killing of Innocents - Validating the Defences of Duress and Superior Orders in International Law, in Windsor Review of Legal and Social Issues, vol. 15, no. 31 [English]


By Irina Negruțiu