The definition of free consent is stated in Section 13 of the Indian Contract Act, which reads, “It is when two or more individuals agree on the same item and within the same sense.” As a result, the two persons must agree on something in the same meaning.
Let’s have a look at an example. B accepts A’s offer to buy his automobile. A has three automobiles and is looking to sell the Maruti. B believes he is going to buy his Honda. In this case, A and B have not agreed on the same issue in the same way. As a result, there is no consent and, as a result, no contract.
Now it’s your turn. In Section 14 of the Act, the term “free consent” is defined. According to the clause, consent is regarded free when it is not induced or struck by the following,
2) Undue Influence
Free Consent-Violating Elements:-
Let’s look at each of these components individually to see how they affect either party’s ability to freely consent.
a. Section 15 (Coercion):- Coercion is the use of force to compel someone to sign a contract. As a result, force or threats are commonly used to get the assent of the coerced person, i.e., it is not free consent. Coercion is defined in Section 15 of the Conduct as committing or threatening to conduct any act prohibited by law within the IPC, as well as unlawfully detaining or threatening to detain any property with the goal of inducing someone to enter into a contract. For example, if B does not sell his house to A for five lakh rupees, A threatens to injure him.
Regardless of whether B sells the house to A, the contract will be void since B’s assent was gained by compulsion. Coercion now has the consequence of making the contract voidable. This implies that the contract can be cancelled at the discretion of the person whose consent was not freely given. As a result, the aggrieved party will determine whether to execute or cancel the contract. So, in the scenario above, if B still wants the contract to relocate, it can. If any cash or commodities were supplied under duress, they must be reimbursed or returned once the contract is dissolved. As a result, the burden of proof for showing coercion will be on the party seeking to escape the contract. As a result, the aggrieved person will be required to establish compulsion, i.e., that his permission was not freely provided.
b. Section 16 (Undue Influence):- It asserts that when the two parties’ relationships are such that one party is in a position to dominate the other and utilizes that power to gain an unfair advantage over the other, it is considered undue influence. When a person has actual or perceived control over another person, the section goes on to explain how that person might misuse his power in the following two ways. He enters a contract with someone whose intelligence is struck by age, disease, or anguish if he is in a very fiduciary connection with the other person.
The mental illness will be either transitory or permanent. For example, suppose A sold his gold look forward to his instructor B for merely Rs 500/- after his instructor guaranteed him high results. A (adult permission)’s was not freely granted since he was influenced by his teacher. Now, in order for undue influence to be seen, the dominating party must have a goal that requires the benefit of the opposing party. It will not constitute undue influence if it is used to benefit the opposing party. However, if permission is not freely given owing to undue influence, the contract is voidable at the offended party’s discretion. As a result, the burden of proof will fall on the dominant party to demonstrate the lack of influence.
c. Section 17 (Fraud):- Factors that Affect Free Consent:] Fraud is defined as deception by one of the parties, or when one of the parties intentionally makes false representations. This can be deemed to be fraudulent if the deception is made with full knowledge that it is not genuine, or carelessly on trust that it is real. It obstructs free consent completely. So, according to Section 17, a fraud occurs when someone persuades another to enter into an agreement by making statements that imply an undeniable fact that isn’t true, and he doesn’t believe it to be true, the active concealment of facts, a promise made with no intention of keeping it, or any other deceptive act. Consider the following scenario. B sold A horse, and A purchased it. According to B, horses are frequently utilized on the farm. The horse appears to be lame, and A is unable to utilize him on his farm. In this case, B willfully misleads A, which might be considered fraud. One thing to consider is whether the aggrieved person has suffered any tangible losses as a result of the deception.
There is no such thing as fraud without repercussions. Furthermore, the inaccuracy must be a truth rather than an opinion. In the above example, if B stated that his horse is healthier than C’s, this may be considered an opinion rather than a fact. As a result, it would not be considered fraud.
d. Section 18 (Misrepresentation):- When a party makes a misleading, inaccurate, or erroneous representation, this is also known as misrepresentation. The difference is that this time, the deception is unintentional. There will be three forms of misrepresentation. A person makes a positive declaration in the belief that it is true. Any violation of duty provides a benefit to the one who does it by deceiving another. When one party leads the other to make a mistake on the contract’s subject matter, however, it is not a breach of duty with the purpose to deceive. However, this can be done inadvertently and without malice.
To summarise, any agreement whose consent is tainted by force, undue influence, fraud, or deception is voidable at the discretion of the person whose consent was tainted. If the party whose permission was received by any of those parts accepts the agreement, it becomes enforceable and binding on him, or he has the option to reject it. While parties can only avoid a contract if there is a bilateral mistake of the parties regarding the fabric facts of the agreement and the parties are under a blunder of foreign law, parties can only avoid the contract if there is a bilateral mistake of the parties regarding the fabric facts of the agreement.
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