An evaluation of the doctrine of economic duress: A case of Tobacco Board of Zambia V. Tombwe Processing Limited

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Mwenda, Emelin
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The doctrine of economic duress is a recent development in English law and has always been surrounded by uncertainties. Its development was rather expected because the usual law concepts such as undue influence and consideration failed in dealing with the problems set by the way economic evolution progressed. The finding of economic duress has not been an easy one. This is because the line between economic duress and normal hard commercial bargaining is blurred or thin.The main objective of this dissertation is to consolidate the case of economic duress as a factor that undermines the free will of parties to contract. The historical development of the doctrine is considered as well as comparing it to other contractual doctrines. These contractual doctrines include undue influence and unconscionability. The paper narrowed down to the decision in Tobacco Board of Zambia v Tombwe Processing Limited in its analysis.In Tobacco Board of Zambia v Tombwe Processing Limited the successful defendant pleaded economic duress for failing to honour its acknowledgement of debt to the plaintiff. The court held that the defendant was coerced to sign the acknowledgement of debt when the plaintiff gave this as a condition for issuance of the licence to the defendant. The court noted that the defendant's operation and survival was dependent on the licence. Based on this the court nullified the document and the contract vitiated.The work concludes that, this doctrine is still developing in English contract law. Like in the Tobacco Board of Zambia case, courts have not come with precise guidelines to be used in each case. When compared to undue influence and unconscionability, it is concluded that the three doctrines are similar but can not completely replace each other . This is because they do not have exactly the same scope.
Business enterprises- Zambia , Business people- Zambia , Entrepreneurship- Zambia , Duress (law)- Zambia