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Coercion vs. Undue Influence — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Published on October 27, 2023
Coercion involves using force or threats to make someone act, while Undue Influence involves exploiting a position of power to influence someone's decisions.
Coercion vs. Undue Influence — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Coercion and Undue Influence


Key Differences

Coercion and Undue Influence are both legally significant terms, representing distinct forms of improper pressure or persuasion. Coercion is overt and explicit, typically involving the use of threats or actual force to compel someone to act against their will. It’s the act of intimidating or pressuring an individual to achieve compliance or cooperation against their preference or best interests. For instance, a person may be coerced into signing a contract under the threat of physical harm or damaging revelation.
On the contrary, Undue Influence is more subtle and covert, involving the manipulation or exploitation of someone in a relationship of trust or dependency. It is the abuse of a position of trust, power, or influence to persuade someone to act in a way that is advantageous to the influencer but detrimental to the influenced. An example would be an attorney coercing a client into leaving them a large sum of money in their will.
Coercion is generally more obvious and easily provable, while Undue Influence may require a detailed examination of the relationship dynamics and the involved parties’ states of mind. In legal contexts, proving coercion might involve demonstrating the presence of immediate threats or harm, whereas establishing Undue Influence might necessitate showcasing an imbalance of power or a breach of trust between the parties.
In essence, both terms encapsulate elements of forced compliance or manipulated consent, but they diverge in their methods, their legality, and their implications. Coercion is blatant, explicit, and often physically forceful, while Undue Influence is implicit, indirect, and often emotionally manipulative. Both are recognized as grounds to render a contract voidable, as they impair the free will and informed consent of the involved parties.

Comparison Chart


Overt, explicit, and forceful
Subtle, covert, and manipulative

Legal Proofs

Demonstrable threats or harm
Imbalance of power, breach of trust


Can exist without pre-established relationships
Typically involves relationships of trust or dependence


Physical force or direct threats
Psychological manipulation, exploitation of trust


Immediate and blatant
Long-lasting, often in relationships of trust

Compare with Definitions


Coercion can involve physical, psychological, or emotional pressure to enforce compliance.
The witness's coercion led to a false testimony during the trial.

Undue Influence

Undue Influence can be subtle and covert, involving psychological manipulation.
The manipulative individual used undue influence to control his friend's choices.


Coercion is often related to the abuse of power to achieve a specific outcome.
The officer used coercion to extract a confession from the suspect.

Undue Influence

Undue Influence involves exploiting a position of power or trust to manipulate someone's decisions.
The caregiver exerted undue influence to alter the elderly woman's will.


Coercion refers to the use of force or threats to compel someone to act against their will.
He signed the document under coercion, fearing retaliation if he refused.

Undue Influence

Undue Influence typically involves exploitation of trust and authority to benefit the influencer.
The trustee's undue influence allowed him to misappropriate the assets.


Coercion can manifest as explicit threats or acts of violence to ensure obedience.
The kidnapper's coercion involved threatening the victim’s family.

Undue Influence

Undue Influence can make agreements legally invalid due to the compromised ability to make informed decisions.
The court annulled the contract, citing undue influence on the part of the employer.


The act or practice of coercing.

Undue Influence

Undue Influence often occurs in relationships where there is an imbalance of power or dependency.
The mentor's undue influence swayed the student’s choice of career path.


Power or ability to coerce.


(uncountable) Actual or threatened force for the purpose of compelling action by another person; the act of coercing.


Use of physical or moral force to compel a person to do something, or to abstain from doing something, thereby depriving that person of the exercise of free will.


(countable) A specific instance of coercing.


Conversion of a value of one data type to a value of another data type.


The process by which the meaning of a word or other linguistic element is reinterpreted to match the grammatical context.


The act or process of coercing.


The application to another of either physical or moral force. When the force is physical, and cannot be resisted, then the act produced by it is a nullity, so far as concerns the party coerced. When the force is moral, then the act, though voidable, is imputable to the party doing it, unless he be so paralyzed by terror as to act convulsively. At the same time coercion is not negatived by the fact of submission under force. "Coactus volui" (I consented under compulsion) is the condition of mind which, when there is volition forced by coercion, annuls the result of such coercion.


The act of compelling by force of authority


Using force to cause something;
Though pressed into rugby under compulsion I began to enjoy the game
They didn`t have to use coercion


Coercion can make contracts and agreements legally voidable due to the lack of free will.
The contract was nullified as the judge found evidence of coercion in its formation.

Common Curiosities

What does Undue Influence mean?

Undue Influence involves exploiting a position of power or trust to manipulate someone’s decisions.

Is proving undue influence difficult?

Proving undue influence can be challenging as it often involves subtle psychological manipulation and exploitation of trust.

What is Coercion?

Coercion involves using force, threats, or intimidation to make someone act against their will.

Can undue influence occur in professional relationships?

Yes, undue influence often occurs in relationships with a significant imbalance of power, such as professional relationships.

Can contracts signed under coercion be voided?

Yes, contracts entered under coercion can be declared voidable.

Is coercion always violent?

Coercion can be violent but also includes psychological or emotional pressure.

Can coercion occur without a pre-existing relationship?

Yes, coercion can occur without any pre-existing relationship between the parties involved.

Is undue influence more psychological?

Yes, undue influence is often more psychological and subtle, exploiting trust and authority.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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