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Duress & Practical Compulsion

Posted on September 28, 2017 | Posted in Construction, Five Liners

Ekum-Sekum Inc. v. Bel-Air Excavating & Grading Ltd. 2017 Ont SCJ

Specifications stated that paving could not take place unless the road surface was at least 2°C and could not be done after November 30 without permission. Through no fault of the paving contractor, the construction was delayed. The general wanted the paving done before winter. The paving contractor insisted that, if the work were not postponed until the spring, then it could not perform the paving unless the general released it from liability for a possible faulty product. The general signed the release, the work was done, the temperature was too cold, and, ultimately, the paving had to be redone. The paving contractor relied on the release. The general alleged that the release was given under duress. The court held in favour of the paving contractor. Alternative courses were open to the general, the general was independently advised that it should not sign the release, and the general did nothing to ensure that the paving did not take place when the temperature was too cold. In addition, the pressure that the paving contractor exerted was for a legitimate reason (i.e. to be absolved from non-compliance with specifications about which the general was warned).


Jonathan Speigel


Written by Jonathan Speigel Jonathan Speigel, the founding partner of Speigel Nichols Fox LLP, leads the litigation and construction practices.



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