Heather Murphy in ground breaking Supreme Court decision on contract law

August 18, 2021

Today, the Supreme Court has handed down a land-mark judgment in the law of contract.

The decision, Pakistan International Airline Corporation v Times Travel [2021] UKSC 40, authoritatively considers the circumstances in which a contract can be avoided for duress, in particular where the acts complained of were lawful.

Times Travel sought to set aside a contract on the grounds of duress. The act of duress complained of was the decision by Pakistan International Airline Corporation to terminate Times Travel’s existing agency agreement and only re-engage them on significantly less advantageous terms. Pakistan International Airline Corporation required Times Travel to surrender claims against it in excess of £1 million. Faced with no other economically viable alternative, Times Travel entered into the new agency agreement.

Times Travel’s claim to avoid the new agreement succeeded before Warren J. Warren J’s decision was overturned in the Court of Appeal (David Richards, Moylan, Asplin L.J.J).

In this ground breaking judgment, the Supreme Court upholds that decision, following an extensive analysis by the Justices of the, often conflicting, authorities in this area.

This judgment is essential reading for all practitioners grappling with this difficult and evolving area of law.

Heather Murphy acted as counsel for Times Travel in the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court (with Philip Shepherd QC).

Heather is happy to discuss any questions that practitioners may have which arise from this judgment or  about the current status of the law of duress.

The judgment can be viewed here.