Invalidating a Contract under the Doctrine of Economic Duress

The doctrine of economic duress has significantly developed and expanded, in recognition of the ever-increasing complexity of the business world. Claims of economic duress in business litigation are becoming more frequent. Several courts, including the United States Supreme Court, have acknowledged that there are situations under which financial pressure may cancel an otherwise enforceable contract. See 13 S. Williston, Contracts, § 1603 at 664 (3d ed. 1970); United States v. Bethlehem Steel Corp., 315 U.S. 289, 62 S.Ct. 581, 86 L.Ed. 855 (1942); Hartsville Oil Mill v. United States, 271 U.S. 43, 46 S.Ct. 389, 70 L.Ed. 822 (1926).The definition of economic duress is set forth in Williston:1. The party alleging economic duress must show that he has been the victim of a wrongful or unlawful act or threat, and2. Such act or threat must be one which deprives the victim of his unfettered will. [13 Williston, supra, § 1617 at 704 (footnotes omitted)]

The courts in New Jersey have defined economic duress as in the Williston formulation. In Woodside Homes, Inc. v. Morristown, 26 N.J. 529, 544 (1958), define that economic duress requires “an assent by one party to an improper or wrongful demand by another under circumstances in which the former has little choice but to accede to the demand. Economic duress occurs when the party alleging it is the victim of a wrongful or unlawful act or threat which deprives the victim of his unfettered will. Quigley v. KPMG Peat Marwick, LLP, 330 N.J.Super. 252, 263 (App. Div. 2000) (citing 13 Williston on Contracts § 1617), certify. denied, 165 N.J. 527 (2000).

It is important to distinguish that “Merely taking advantage of another’s financial difficulty is not duress. Rather, the person alleging financial difficulty must allege that it was contributed to or caused by the one accused of coercion.” Continental Bank v. Barclay Riding Academy, Inc., 93 N.J. 153, 176, 459 A.2d 1163, cert. denied, 464 U.S. 994, 104 S.Ct. 488, 78 L.Ed.2d 684 (1983). Therefore, when there is adequacy of consideration, there is generally no duress…. Whenever a party to a contract seeks the best possible terms, there can be no rescission merely upon the grounds of driving a hard bargain. Merely taking advantage of another’s financial difficulty is not duress. Rather, the person alleging financial difficulty must allege that it was contributed to or caused by the one accused of coercion…. Under this rule, the party exerting pressure is scored only for that for which he alone is responsible. [Williston, supra, § 1617 at 708 (footnotes omitted)]

Disclaimer: The contents of this website are of general nature and not intended to be a substitute for legal advice or the formation of a lawyer-client relationship. In order to be properly represented, please contact your local professional. In addition, the information given on this website has been composed by a New Jersey attorney practicing exclusively in New Jersey. None of the information contained herein should be deemed to apply in other states, nor should this website be construed as an attempt by the author to practice law in any state other than New Jersey.

Joint Venture Agreements in New Jersey

Joint Venture Agreements in New Jersey: Ruiz Doolan Law Firm Business Lawyers.

Getting into Business with a Friend? You may need a Joint Venture Agreement.

I) What is a Joint Venture Agreement?

A joint venture agreement is a contract made between two or more individuals or companies to be in a joint venture.  People who create a joint venture agreement want to collaborate on a project while remaining independent. For example: Company A and Company B want to enter in a joint venture agreement for the specific purpose of building houses.

II) Consideration and Planning for A Joint Venture Agreement:

When planning to enter a joint venture agreement there are a few factors to consider:

1) The Form of the Joint Venture: Will the joint venture be in the form of a partnership, LLC. or a contract between companies.

2) Scope of Business

3) Ownership and Control

4) Dissolution

5) Assets

6) Governance

7) Management

8) Budgets

9) Disputes

10) Taxes

11) Financing

12) Breaches

13) Debt

14) Transfers

Without a properly drafted joint venture agreement the parties can be severely under-protected both as to their rights  and as to their asset protection

For more information about Joint Venture Agreements in New Jersey call Ruiz Doolan Law Firm at (201) 880-5563. Mention this blog for a free initial consultation.

 

New Jersey Landlord Tenant Leases

New Tenant, but same old lease?

You need a Bergen County Landlord Tenant Attorney.

Not all lease agreements are created equal. In drafting the lease, the landlord needs to look beyond the standard clauses of amount of rent owed, date it is due and the term of the lease. It is crucial that each lease is individually drafted for that individual tenant as each tenant can create their own individual set of future problems. Failure to consider this and use a template lease for all new tenants will result in future problems when it is time to evict the tenant and/or collect rent that is owed.

 

‘Landlord should look into the tenant’s rental history, income, as well as family resources when determining what terms need to go into the tenant’s rental agreement. Not every tenant that qualifies financially is a necessarily a good tenant to have. In fact, some tenants winding up costing the landlord both financially and emotionally.

These are the type of pitfall that can easily be avoided by using an experienced landlord-tenant attorney to help you draft your lease.

Contact our Bergen, New Jersey Landlord Tenant Attorneys at 201-880-5563 to see how can help you save time, money and protect your investment and property.