DURESS (through Fr. from Lat. duritia, harshness, severity, durus, hard), in law, constraint or compulsion. Duress may be of two kinds. It may consist in personal restraint or actual violence or imprisonment; or it may be by threats (per minas), as where a person is compelled to an act by threats of immediate death or grievous bodily harm. Duress, in certain cases, may be pleaded as a defence of an act which would otherwise be a crime, but the extent to which the plea of duress can be urged is unascertained. At common law a contract entered into under duress is voidable at the option of one of the parties. See Coercion, Contract.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)