Under the influence of increasing liberality of legal thought aided by the example offered by courts of equity, the definition of duress in courts of law has been much enlarged. It has been said "duress is but the extreme of undue influence." 8 And while this statement is not strictly accurate since duress implies that fear is the motive which coerces the will, and no such implication is necessarily involved in the words "undue influence," there is no doubt that the modern tendency of courts of law is to regard any transaction as voidable which the party seeking to avoid was not bound to enter into and which was coerced by fear of a wrongful act by the other party to the transaction. The earlier requirements of common-law duress may be regarded as merged in this broader definition.9 Statements, in the subsequent discussion, of what has been held in the past insufficient to constitute duress must, therefore, be taken with much qualification. In some jurisdictions, indeed, the tendency to preserve hard and fast lines persists in actions Harding v. Handy, 11 Wheat. 103, 125, 6 L. Ed. 429; Gillespie v. Smith, 229 Fed. 760; Crabb v. Watts, 249 Fed. 357; Lord v. Reed, 254 Hi. 350, 98 N. E. 553, Ann. Cas. 1913 C. 139; Zimmerman v. Bitner, 79 Md. 115, 28 Atl. 820; Clement v. Buckley Mercantile Co., 172 Mich. 243,137 N. W. 657; Munaon v. Carter, 19 Neb. 293, 27 N. W. 208; Fisher v. Bishop, 108 N. Y. 25,15 N. £. 331, 2 Am. St. Rep. 357; Long v. Mulford, 17 Oh. St. 484, 504, 505, 93 Am. Dec. 633; Zeigler v. Shuler, 87 S. C. 1, 68 S. £. 817; Fishbume v. Ferguson, 85 Va. 321, 7 S. £. 361.
8 Commercial Nat. Bank v. Whee-lock, 52 Ohio St. 534, 40 N. E. 636, 49 Am. St. Rep. 738.
9 See Barnett Oil & Gas Co. v. New Martinsville Oil Co., 254 Fed. 481; Missouri Pacific R. Co. v. Fields, 134 Ark. 273, 203 S. W. 1036; Dorsey v. Bryans, 143 Ga. 186,84 S. E. 467, Ann. Cas. 1917 A. 172; Cribbs v. Sowle, 87 Mich. 340, 49 N. W. 587, 24 Am. St. Rep. 166; Cox v. Edwards, 120 Minn.
512, 517, 139 N. W. 1070; First Nat. Bank of David City v. Sargeant, 65 Neb. 594, 91 N. W. 595, 59 L. R. A. 296; Piekenbrock v. Smith, 43 Okl. 585, 143 Pac. 675; Anderson tr.-Kelley, 57 Okl. 109, 156 Pac. 1167; Galusha v. Sherman, 105 Wis. 263, 81 N. W. 495, 47 L. R. A. 417; Batavian Bank v. North, 114 Wis. 637, 90 N. W. 1016.
In Koewing v. West Orange, 89 N. J. 539, 99 Atl. 203, 204, the court said: "A very good definition of duress is that adopted in the opinion of the court in Be Meyer (D. C), 106 Fed. 831, as follows: "The duress for which a person may avoid any contract or conveyance made, or recover back any money paid under its influence, exists where one by the unlawful act of the beneficiary or his authorized agent, or by the act of some person with his knowledge, is constrained under circumstances which deprive him of the exercise of free will to agree or to per-form the act sought to be avoided.* " at law, and in such jurisdictions the precedents cited might be regarded as establishing narrower and more definite rules than that just suggested; but the modern tendency is to consider each case upon its own special circumstances. "The real and ultimate fact to be determined in every case is whether or not the party really had a choice - whether 'he had his freedom of exercising his will.'" 10 In considering the authorities, however, it must be remembered that some jurisdictions are less ready than others to treat the defence of duress at law as having been enlarged to this extent by borrowing from equity.11 The word duress, itself, also is ambiguously used. It is often used now as covering every case where a party to a contract or transfer was deprived of freedom of will, and this seems a desirable extension of meaning. Other courts give duress an older and narrower meaning, and while not confining the limits of a possible defence within the limits of that meaning, speak of undue influence when the case goes beyond those limits.