After today’s class you should be able to answer the following
The meaning of consent
The various factors vitiating consent
In today’s lecture we shall study about another essential
element of a contract that is free consent.
It has already been pointed out in the earlier lecture that,
according to Section 10’ free consent’ of all the parties to an
agreement is one of the essential elements of a valid contract.
But students do you know what is meant by consent?
Section 13 of the Contract Act defines the term ‘consent’ and
lays down that “Two or more persons are said to consent when
they agree upon the same thing in the same sense. “Thus,
consent involves identity of minds or consensus ad-idem i.e.,
agreeing upon the same thing in the same sense. If, for
whatever reason, there is no consensus ad item among the
contracting parties, there is no real consent and hence no valid
Now we come to free consent
‘Free Consent’ defined. Section 14 lays down that “Consent is
said to be ‘free’ when it is not caused by-1.
defined in Section 15, or
2.Undue influence as defined in Section 16, or
3.Misrepresentation as defined in Section 18, or
4.Fraud, as defined in Section 17, or
5.Mistake, subject to the provisions of Section, 20, 21 and
Henceforth the various factors which vitiate consent are
“Consent is said to be so caused when it would not have been
given but for the existence of such coercion, undue influence,
misrepresentation, fraud or mistake” (Sec. 14). This means that
in order to bring a case within this Section, the party, who
alleges that his consent has been caused by any of the above
elements which vitiate consent, must show that, but for the
vitiating circumstance the agreement would not have been
entered into. To put it differently, in order to prove that his
consent is ‘not free’, the complainant must prove that if he had
known the truth, or had not been forced to agree, must prove
that if he had known the truth, or had not been forced to agree,
he would not have entered into the contract.
In the absence of ‘free consent’, the contract may turn out to be
either voidable or void depending upon the nature of the flaw
in consent to an agreement is caused by coercion, undue
influence, misrepresentation or fraud, there is ‘no free consent’
and the contract is voidable at the option of the party whose
consent was so caused (Sec. 19 and 19A).
But when consent is caused by ‘bilateral mistake’ as to a matter
of fact essential to the agreement, the agreement is void (Sec.
20). In such a case there is ‘no consent’ at all.