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This article explains how the aberrant nature of electronic contracts has unique effects. Companies take advantage of these unique effects and use electronic contracts in a coercive manner. This article proposes the new defense of “situational duress” to address the exploitative use of electronic contracts in certain situations.

Part I explains why electronic contracts are aberrant and explains how the developing law in this area deviates from traditional contract doctrine. This section also discusses how the electronic form affects consumer behavior and understanding of contract terms. Part II provides background to the traditional doctrine of duress and introduces the concept of situational duress. Part III explains how the defense of situational duress would operate and how it would respond to, and rectify problems associated with, electronic contracts. Part III also addresses anticipated objections to such a defense. This article concludes that the aberrance of electronic contracts as a contracting form requires recognition in the definition and application of doctrinal rules.

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Contracts Commons