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LAW OF CONTRACT. CONSENT: VOIDABLE CONTRACTS. MGM3351 Dr . Zahira Mohd . Ishan. Void, Voidable & Illegal. S. 2(g):an agreement not enforceable by law is said to be void. Void agreements: ss.25-31.

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Law of contract





Dr. ZahiraMohd. Ishan

Void voidable illegal
Void, Voidable & Illegal

  • S. 2(g):an agreement not enforceable by law is said to be void.

  • Void agreements: ss.25-31.

  • S.25: Considerations (wholly/partly) for a single object, is unlawful, the agreement is void.

  • Rights & duties not created.

  • S.2(i): an agreement which is enforceable by law at the option of one or more of the parties thereto, but not at the option of the other or others, is a voidable contract.

  • Rights & duties created.

  • The 3rd party, acting in good faith & without knowledge of any vitiating circumstances.

Law of contract

Section 14 of the CA,1950

“Free consent”

Consent is said to be free when it is not caused by-







Coercion s 15
"Coercion" : s.15

  • is the committing, or threatening to commit any act forbidden by the Penal Code, or

  • the unlawful detaining or threatening to detain, any property, to the prejudice of any person whatever,

  • with the intention of causing any person to enter into an agreement

    Explanation: It is immaterial whether the Penal Code is or is not in force in the place where the coercion is employed


A, on board an English ship on the high seas, causes B to enter into an agreement by an act amounting to criminal intimidation under the Penal Code.

A afterwards sues B for breach of contract at Taiping.

A has employed coercion, although his act is not an offence by the law of England, and although section 506 of the Penal Code was not in force at the time when or place where the act was done.

  • KanhayaLal v NBI Ltd:

S 15 covers duress
s.15 covers duress

  • Common law:

  • Equity:

  • English courts now combine the effect of common law & equity

  • Duress of the person:

    :Seriousness of the action threatened upon A depend upon A’s ability to resist pressure improperly brought to bear.

    :A’s entitlement to relief: establish that the threats contributed to A’s decision.

  • Duress of goods: unclear: contract entered into as a result of actual/threatened violence to/ the illegal seizure of goods/ other property.

  • Threats amounting to blackmail

  • Economic duress

Establishing coercion
Establishing Coercion:

i) Committing /threatening to commit any act forbidden by the Penal Code; not tortious wrongs.

~Penal Code:

Application of duress kesarmal anor v valliappa chettiar anor 1954 mlj 119
Application of duress: Kesarmal & Anor v. ValliappaChettiar & Anor[1954] MLJ 119

Law of contract

ii) Toward any person or just the plaintiff?

  • The person being coerced & the person pressured to contract

    ~ there should be a relationship (interest gained)

    Wong Ah Fook v KNJ , or

    ~ no relationship needed (humane)

    iii) The act / threat caused the person to enter into the contract?

S 73 of the ca
s.73 of the CA

Under Part VI of the Act: “Of Certain Relations Resembling Those Created by Contract”

: A person to whom money has been paid, or anything delivered, by mistake or under coercion, must repay or return it.


(a) A and B jointly owe RM100 to C. A alone pays the amount to C, and B, not knowing this fact, pays RM100 over again to C. C is bound to repay the amount to B.

(b) A railway company refuses to deliver up certain goods to the consignee, except upon the payment of an illegal charge for carriage. The consignee pays the sum charged in order to obtain the goods. He is entitled to recover so much of the charge as was illegally excessive.

Chin nam bee dvlp sdn bhd v tai kim choo ors 1988
Chin Nam Bee DvlpSdnBhd v Tai Kim Choo & Ors [1988]

It would be difficult to give effect to s. 73 illustration (b) if the word `coercion' is to be given the meaning as defined in s. 15 of the Act. They appear to be in conflict with each other.

Therefore the word `coercion' in the context of s. 73 of the Act should be given its ordinary and general meaning since there is nothing under s. 15 which says that the word `coercion' should apply throughout the Act. The definition of `coercion' in s. 15 should only apply for the purpose contained in s. 14, as s. 14 of the Act specifically says so.

C m naested v the state of perak 1925 fmslr 185
C.M. Naested v. The State of Perak [1925] FMSLR 185

Fact: The plaintiff’s application for a grant of 23,000 acres of land was approved by defendant. He then paid a certain sum for survey fees calculated upon the area approved as being one block. Yet, the land was cut up into 16 blocks, but plaintiff was not informed. Upon demand made by the District Officer the plaintiff's agents paid a further sum for survey fees, the calculation of the amount being based upon the 16 blocks.

The plaintiff sued to recover the sum so paid by the agents.

Held: “Under these circumstances, it is impossible to consider the payment as a voluntary one. The parties were not on equal terms. On the one side was the plaintiff, a private individual, and his agents, a mercantile firm, on the other the Government of the State, which had the power of saying "If you do not pay you shall not have your grant".

I think that the plaintiff is entitled to recover the money as a payment made without consideration, and under coercion, within the meaning of s. 72 [s.73] of the Contract Enactment.”

Kanhaya lal v national bank of india ltd 1913 ilr xl 598
KanhayaLal v. National Bank of India Ltd.[1913] ILR XL 598

Economic duress
Economic Duress

  • To constitute economic duress, the threat must be illegitimate either because what is threatened is a legal wrong or the threat itself is wrongful or it is contrary to public policy.

  • Whether the threat is amounting to duress must be considered by reference to its coercive effect in each case.

  • Mere commercial pressure is not suffice.

  • The pressure must be such that the victim’s consent to the contract was not a voluntary act on his part.

Law of contract

  • Perlis Plantation Bhd v Mohamad Abdullah Ang [1988]:

  • MohdFariqSubramaniam v Naza Motor Trading SdnBhd:

Undue influence s 16
“Undue Influence”: s.16

  • Unconscientious dealing

  • Def: s.16(1): relations subsisting between the parties; domination of the will by one party over the other; obtaining an unfair advantage.

    Ragunath Prasad v Sarju Prasad

  • Common law: 2 classes of ui:



Law of contract

  • The term was initially used by Lord Hardwicke in Morris v. Burroughs(1737) as a reminder to parents to watch their exercise of authority over their children (WHD Winder, 1939)

  • Cooke v Lamotte (1851): being used to cover possibility of improper or misuse of influence by guardian and those in loco parentis, solicitor, spiritual adviser, doctor, medical attendant, “and may be said to apply to every case in which two persons are so situated, that one may obtain considerable influence over another”

Law of contract

S 16 2 presumption of domination of will
s. 16(2): presumption of domination of will necessarily special relationship.

  • When one party ‘holds a real or apparent authority over the other’

  • When one party ‘stands in a fiduciary relation to the other’.

  • Where one party ‘makes a contract with a person whose mental capacity is temporarily or permanently affected by reason of age, illness, or mental or bodily distress

Law of contract

Law of contract

Some common law cases necessarily special relationship.:

  • Allcard v Skinner

  • Lloyds Bank v Bundy

  • Tate v Williamson

  • Smith v Kay

  • Fry v Lane

  • Nat West Bank v Morgan

  • Royal Bank of Scotland Plc v Etridge

  • Some Malaysian cases:

  • SalwathHaneem v Hadjee Abdullah

  • Polygram Records Sdnbhd v The Search & Anor

  • Saw GaikBeow v Chong Yew Weng

  • DatukJaginder Singh v Tara Rajaratnam

  • Public Finance Bhd v Lee Bee Rubber Factory S.B & Ors

  • IncheNoriah v Shaik Allie

S 16 3 unconscionable bargain
s.16(3): Unconscionable bargain necessarily special relationship.

  • A protean term; covers unjust/unfair/ immoral bargain.

  • unconscionable transaction is seen as a result of undue influence by virtue of section 16(3)

  • Chait Singh v Budin b. Abdullah

  • Ragunath Prasad v Sarju Prasad

Rebuttal necessarily special relationship.

  • Plaintiff not relying upon defendant’s advice


    3.Fulfillment of duty by defendant to the plaintiff

Effects of undue influence
Effects of Undue Influence necessarily special relationship.

  • S. 20 of the CA: voidable at the option of the party whose consent was so caused.

    Set aside absolutely, or if benefit received, upon such terms or conditions as the court may seem just.

    Illustration (a) & (b).

Law of contract

“Fraud”: s.17 necessarily special relationship.

  • __instances of fraud (intention to deceive other party).

  • Courts often interpret s.17 as fraudulent misrepresentation.

    “Misrepresentation”: s.18

  • False statement made by representor with no intention to deceive. ___ instances.

    Covers negligent (breach of duty of care) and innocent (no duty of care to find out the truth) misrepresentations.

Representation necessarily special relationship.

i-Representation of certain fact; not opinion: Bisset v Wilkinson.

ii-Addressed to the innocent party

Peek v Gurney

ii- Induce the other party to enter into the contract.

Horsfall v Thomas

Mithoolal v Life Insurance Corp

Duty of disclosure
Duty of Disclosure necessarily special relationship.

  • The representation must be ___________. Silence means no positive statement or action made.

    Keates v Lord Cadogan

    Mahn Singh v Guan Soon Transport Ltd. [1955]

  • Explanation to s. 17: mere silence is not fraud unless there is a duty to speak or the silence is equivalent to speech.

Duty of disclosure1
Duty of disclosure necessarily special relationship.

  • Illustration (a) & (b) of s. 17.

    i) Contract of Utmost Good Faith / Uberrimaefidei: duty to be honest & truthful ~ full disclosure of material facts.

    ~ Insurance contract; allotment of shares (prospectus); partnership; contract of guarantee & surety.

    Abu Bakar v Oriental Fire & Gnrl Insurance

    Tan Kang Hua v Safety Insurance

    GohChooi Leong v Public Life Assurance Co. Ltd.

Law of contract

ii) Fiduciary relationship necessarily special relationship.

Confidence given to the other party. That other party must show that he’s exercising the due care & trust.



Nocton v Lord Ashburton

The duty is not imposed on all confidential relationship: Bell v Lever Brothers Ltd : contract of service.

Law of contract

  • Exceptions to s. 19: necessarily special relationship.

    Ordinary diligence / rule of caveat emptor

    ~ consent caused by misrepresentation or by silence, fraudulent within the meaning of s. 17.

    Effect of coercion, fraud & misrepresentation:

Law of contract

  • Letchemy necessarily special relationship.Arumugam v Annamalay: P, illiterate rubber tapper signed a S&P letter (thought it was a mere loan agreement)

  • Tan Chye Chew & Ors. V Eastern Mining Metals Co. Ltd.: a higher degree of probability for fraud.

  • DatukJaginder Singh v Tara Rajaratnam

  • KhengChweeLian v Wong Tak Thong

  • Derry v Peek

  • Weber v Brown

  • Keong man v Kishen

  • Lau HeeTeah v Hargill Engineering SdnBhd