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Force, coercion or threat of either. A contract signed under duress is usually invalid and unenforceable. To give a very simple example, one may not hold a gun to the head of another party and expect him/her to sign a valid contract. Likewise, one may not be guilty of a crime if one commits it under duress.
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Unlawful pressure, force, or threats by one person against another. If one is the victim of duress, then any contract or agreement entered into as a result of the duress is void.The operative word in the definition is “unlawful.”Many people claim economic duress when a lender,for example, threatens foreclosure unless a borrower signs a new loan agreement with onerous terms, a high interest rate, and large fees for attorneys and other expenses. Usually, if the lender had the right to foreclose,then the threats cannot be unlawful and duress does not exist.

The Complete Real Estate Encyclopedia by Denise L. Evans, JD & O. William Evans, JD. Copyright © 2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.