The doctrine of duress in the law of contract and unjustified enrichment in South Africa
Abstract (Summary)This thesis analyses the doctrine of duress and its application in the law of contract and unjustified enrichment in South Africa. Following an initial examination of the historical development of the doctrine from its roots in Roman and Roman-Dutch law, the study focuses on the current legal position in the two areas of law under review, identifies the substantive and formal deficiencies in the current approach, and suggests, using comparative authorities, how the law might be developed. As far as the law of contract is concerned, after exposing the difficulties inherent in the current approach, and placing the doctrine in its proper context in the South African law of contract generally, it is argued that the duress doctrine finds its juridical basis in the principle of good faith. A more modern and coherent test for duress is then proposed: one that concentrates on the question whether an illegitimate threat was made, which induced a contract in that it left the other person no reasonable choice but to succumb to the proposal. Additionally, the need for South African contract law to recognise and deal with cases of economic duress is emphasised. The study then shifts to an examination of the position in situations where non-contractual performances have occurred under duress: cases that are decided in terms of the principles of the law of unjustified enrichment. The current position is reviewed, and it is shown that the approach to duress cases is substantially different to the approach that applies in contract. An attempt is made to reconcile this problem. From a structural perspective, the nature and application of the relevant enrichment action where a non-contractual performance is made under duress (the condictio indebiti) is also investigated, in the light of approaches to enrichment adopted in both Germany and England, in an attempt to make better sense of this enrichment action in the South African context. The study closes with an analysis of the various contractual, delictual and enrichment remedies that are available once a case of duress has been proved.
School Location:South Africa
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:faculty of law
Date of Publication:01/01/2004