Unconscionable Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Unconscionable, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Unconscionable?

(adj). Unconscionable agreements are the one with terms which are unjust and unenforceable which any normal man would not have agreed to execute. Courts will not enforce such contract against the unfairly effected party because it assume the existence of coercion or unsound mental condition.

History and Meaning of Unconscionable

Unconscionable is a legal term used to describe a contract, clause or agreement that is considered extremely unfair or one-sided. These agreements are often unconscionable because one party has significantly more bargaining power than the other, resulting in the weaker party being taken advantage of. The term "conscience" refers to one's sense of what is right and wrong, and an unconscionable contract is therefore considered to be against one's morals.

The concept of unconscionable contracts has existed in legal systems for centuries. English common law recognized the concept in the 1600s, and the United States began to incorporate it into its legal system in the 20th century. Today, unconscionability has become a widely accepted legal doctrine in many countries, including the US and Australia.

Examples of Unconscionable

  1. A landlord includes a clause in the lease agreement that requires the tenant to pay a large penalty fee if they move out early, even if they have a valid reason, such as a job relocation. This clause is considered unconscionable because it unfairly penalizes the tenant.

  2. A car dealer sells a car to a young student with a low income and limited knowledge about cars. The dealer convinces the student to sign a contract with high interest rates and hidden fees, which the student cannot afford. This contract is considered unconscionable because the dealer used their superior bargaining power to take advantage of the student's lack of understanding.

  3. A company includes a clause in their employment contract that requires employees to give up their right to sue the company in case of any disputes. This clause is considered unconscionable because it takes away the employee's legal rights and bargaining power.

Legal Terms Similar to Unconscionable

  1. Duress: an illegal tactic used to coerce someone into entering a contract.
  2. Undue influence: a situation in which one party uses their dominance or influence over another party to gain an unfair advantage.
  3. Misrepresentation or fraud: a deliberate deception or omission of truth by one party to deceive another party.