Free Consent (Section 13 & 14)

Introduction

Free Consent in the Indian Contract Act, the definition of Consent is given in Section 13, which states that “It is when two or more persons agree upon the identical thing and within the same sense”. Therefore, the two people must comply with something within the same sense yet. 

Let us say as an example A agrees to sell his car to B. A owns three cars and needs to sell the Maruti. B thinks he is buying his Honda. Here A and B have not approved the identical thing within the same sense. Hence there is no consent and subsequently no contract. 

Now Free Consent has been defined in Section 14 of the Act. The section says that consent is considered free consent when it’s not caused or stricken by the subsequent, 

1) Coercion 

2) Undue Influence

3) Fraud

4) Misrepresentation

5)Mistake

Elements Vitiating Free Consent

Let us take a glance at these elements individually that impair the free consent of either party.

1) Coercion (Section 15) Coercion means using force to compel an individual to enter a contract. So, force or threats are accustomed obtain the consent of the party under coercion, i.e., it is not free consent. Section 15 of the Act describes coercion as committing or threatening to commit any act forbidden by the law within the IPC unlawfully detaining or threatening to detain any property with the intention of causing somebody to enter a contract for example, A threatens to harm B if he does not sell his house to A for five lakh rupees. Here whether B sells the house to A, it will not be a legitimate contract since B’s consent was obtained by coercion. Now the effect of coercion is that it makes the contract voidable.

This suggests the contract is voidable at the choice of the party whose consent was not free. therefore, the aggravated party will decide whether to perform the contract or to void the contract. So, within the above example, if B still wishes, the contract can move. Also, if any monies are paid or goods delivered under coercion must be repaid or returned once the contract is void. and therefore, the burden of proof proving coercion are going to be on the party who wants to avoid the contract. therefore, the aggravated party will must prove the coercion, i.e., prove that his consent was not freely given.

2) Undue Influence (Section 16) – It states that when the relations between the 2 parties are such one party is during a position to dominate the opposite party and uses such influence to get an unfair advantage of the opposite party it will be undue influence. The section also further describes how the person can abuse his authority within the following two ways, When an individual holds real or maybe apparent authority over the opposite person. Or if he is in an exceedingly fiduciary relationship with the opposite person, He makes a contract with someone whose intelligence is stricken by age, illness, or distress. The unsoundness of mind will be temporary or permanent Say for instance A sold his gold look ahead to only Rs 500/- to his teacher B after his teacher promised him good grades. Here the consent of A (adult) is not freely given, he was under the influence of his teacher. Now undue influence to be evident the dominant party must have the target to require advantage of the opposite party. If influence is wielded to profit the opposite party, it will not be undue influence. But if consent is not free thanks to undue influence, the contract becomes voidable at the choice of the aggravated party. and therefore, the burden of proof is going to be on the dominant party to prove the absence of influence.

3) Fraud (Section 17) – Factors Impairing Free Consent:] Fraud means deceit by one among the parties, i.e., when one in all the parties deliberately makes false statements. that the misrepresentation is finished with full knowledge that it is not true, or recklessly on faith for the trueness, this can be said to be fraudulent. It absolutely impairs free consent. So, per Section 17, a fraud is when a celebration convinces another to enter into an agreement by making statements that are suggesting a undeniable fact that isn’t true, and he doesn’t believe it to be true the active concealment of facts a promise made with none intention of performing it any other such act fitted to deceive Let us take a glance at an example. A bought a horse from B. B claims the horse are often used on the farm. seems the horse is lame, and A cannot use him on his farm. Here B knowingly deceived A and this may amount to fraud. One factor to think about is that the aggravated party should suffer from some actual loss because of the fraud. there is no fraud without damages. Also, the falsity must be a fact, not an opinion. within the above example if B had said his horse is healthier than C’s this could be an opinion, not a fact. That is why it would not amount to fraud.

4) Misrepresentation (Section 18)- Misrepresentation is additionally when a celebration makes a representation that is false, inaccurate, incorrect, etc. The difference here is that the misrepresentation is innocent, i.e., not intentional. Misrepresentation will be of three types A person makes a positive assertion believing it to be true Any breach of duty gives the person committing it a bonus by misleading another. But the breach of duty is with no intent to deceive when one party causes the opposite party to create a blunder on the topic matter of the contract. But this can be done innocently and not intentionally.

Conclusion

To conclude, it can easily be concluded from the above discussion that any agreement the consent of which is littered with coercion, undue influence, fraud, and misrepresentation is voidable at the choice of the party whose consent was so caused. If the party whose consent was obtained through any of those elements accepts the agreement, then the agreement becomes enforceable and binding on him or he can even reject it. While just in case of mistake of the parties, parties can only avoid the contract where there is a bilateral mistake of the parties regarding the fabric facts of agreement and parties are under a blunder of foreign law.

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Hello Everyone, this is Aditya. I am a First year B.A.LL.B. student from Symbiosis Law School, Pune. Being a firm believer of the Pt. Nehru's quote, "Facts are Facts and will not disappear on account of your likes", My aptitude for Law and Journalism is witness to the basic fact that you will find me in the library reading my favorite Legal Books, my favorite being 'The Courtroom Genius' by Nani Palkhivala. I chose Law as my career because I was inspired by the likes of Lawyers like Nani Palkhivala and Ram Jethmalani. I always wanted to contribute to the field of Social Work through Legal means and Emancipation of the Poor. My oratory skills won various accolades both at regional and global level. In my opinion dream does not become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination, and hard work.