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Factors Vitiating Free Consent

The law of contract discusses factors vitiating free consent under sections 15, 16, 17, 18, and 20 of the Indian Contract Act,1872.

A contract is any agreement made from the free consent of the parties. The parties must be competent to enter into a contract for a lawful consideration and object.

Two or more persons allegedly give consent once they agree upon an equivalent thing within the same sense.

Section 14 of the Indian Contract Act 1872 states that consent is free when not obtained by fraud, misrepresentation, undue influence, coercion, or mistake. If any of the above methods take the consent, then the contract is voidable at the choice of the aggrieved party. Any of the above factors’ presence may disrupt the entire contract formation.

Factors Vitiating Free Consent

Let us look at these factors in detail.


Section 15 of the Indian Contract Act states, suppose a person acts or threatens to commit any act forbidden by IPC or unlawfully detains or threatens to detain any property, meaning to cause a person to agree. In that case, he has committed coercion.

The coercion method forces an individual to enter right into a contract. When intimidation or threats are used beneath strain to profit the party’s consent, it is not free consent.

Coercion can also involve the particular infliction of physical and psychological damage if one wants to beautify the credibility of a risk. Then, the danger of similar harm can cause the threatened person’s cooperation or obedience.

Effect of coercion

Any contract entered under coercion is often cancelled, and therefore the parties are free of the duty to perform obligations under such agreement.

  • Undue influence

Assume a situation where one person is said to dominate another person’s will and takes advantage of it. A contract made under such a scenario is often alleged to be under undue influence.

As per this section, an individual can abuse his authority in the following ways:

  • When he holds real or apparent control over another person or any fiduciary relationship between two persons.
  • If he makes a contract with a mentally disabled person. 

Effect of undue influence

When a party signs a contract under undue influence, it is void at the choice of the person whose consent has taken such.

  • Fraud

In view of section 17 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872, an act committed by a person or his agent on his behalf to deceive another person or insist him enter a contract act is often called fraud. The affected party must suffer some actual loss, thanks to the fraud. However, there is no fraud if there is no damage.

Fraud implies and involves any act committed with the help of a contracting party or his connivance or agent to deceive or incite another person or agent to enter into the settlement.

Effect of fraud

Such a contract is voidable, and therefore the deceived party has the proper to revoke it and recover damages from the opposite party.

  • Misrepresentation

It is defined under section 18 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872 and includes three aspects-

  • Where any excellent announcement or declaration is formed by an individual, which is not real, though he believes it to be true
  • Any breach of duty leads to the person’s advantage by committing it.
  • Causing another person to commit an error regarding the topic matter of the contract.

Effect of misrepresentation

The affected person can claim damages and file a suit to revive the party to its original position.

  • Mistake

Section 20 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872 defines mistakes. The topic matter of fact is essential to any contract. When both the parties are at an error on the topic matter of fact, such a contract is void.

Mistakes are unpardonable under the following circumstances:

  • Ignorance of the law is not a suitable excuse. No party can claim that he was unaware of the law.
  • The second scenario happens when two parties misunderstand one another. These mistakes can be unilateral or bilateral.

Types of mistakes:

  • Mistake on the topic matter of the agreement.
  • Mistake on title or rights.
  • Mistake on the various material within the minds of the parties.
  • Error in material associated with its substance, nature, or quality.
  • Mistake within the probability of the contract.
  • Physical impossibility
  • Legal impossibility


Consent is the most significant part of any contract. When two or more persons comply with an equivalent thing within the same sense, they possess consent. 

Free consent does not involve coercion, misrepresentation, undue influence, fraud, or mistake. If any such methods back the consent, the contract is voidable at the choice of the aggrieved party. 

A contract is voidable if it is on the grounds of the constitution without discretion.


Frequently asked questions

Get answers to the most common queries related to the UPSC Examination Preparation.

What is meant by free consent?

Ans. Free consent is when two or more parties comply with som...Read full

What are the essentials of undue influence?

Ans. The essentials of undue influence are as follows: ...Read full

What is the essential difference between coercion and undue influence?

Ans. In undue influence, there must be such a relationship between the parties that one dominates t...Read full

Mention any three sorts of mistakes.

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