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Related to unconscionable: Unconscionable contract


Unusually harsh and shocking to the conscience; that which is so grossly unfair that a court will proscribe it.

When a court uses the word unconscionable to describe conduct, it means that the conduct does not conform to the dictates of conscience. In addition, when something is judged unconscionable, a court will refuse to allow the perpetrator of the conduct to benefit.

In contract law an unconscionable contract is one that is unjust or extremely one-sided in favor of the person who has the superior bargaining power. An unconscionable contract is one that no person who is mentally competent would enter into and that no fair and honest person would accept. Courts find that unconscionable contracts usually result from the exploitation of consumers who are often poorly educated, impoverished, and unable to find the best price available in the competitive marketplace.

Contractual provisions that indicate gross one-sidedness in favor of the seller include provisions that limit damages against the seller, limit the rights of the purchaser to seek court relief against the seller, or disclaim a Warranty. State and federal Consumer Protection and Consumer Credit laws were enacted to prevent many of these unconscionable contract provisions from being included in sales contracts.

Unconscionability is determined by examining the circumstances of the parties when the contract was made; these circumstances include, for example, the bargaining power, age, and mental capacity of the parties. The doctrine is applied only where it would be an affront to the integrity of the judicial system to enforce such contracts.

Unconscionable conduct is also found in acts of Fraud and deceit, where the deliberate Misrepresentation of fact deprives someone of a valuable possession. Whenever someone takes unconscionable advantage of another person, the action may be treated as criminal fraud or the civil action of deceit.No standardized criteria exist for measuring whether an action is unconscionable. A court of law applies its conscience, or moral sense, to the facts before it and makes a subjective judgment. The U.S. Supreme Court's "shock the conscience test" in rochin v. california, 342 U.S. 165, 72 S. Ct. 205, 96 L. Ed. 183 (1952), demonstrates this approach. The Court ruled that pumping the stomach of a criminal suspect in search of drugs offends "those canons of decency and fairness which express the notions of justice of English-speaking peoples." The Court relied on these general historical and moral traditions as the basis for ruling unconstitutional an unconscionable act.


adj. referring to a contract or bargain which is so unfair to a party that no reasonable or informed person would agree to it. In a suit for breach of contract, a court will not enforce an unconscionable contract (award damages or order specific performance) against the person unfairly treated on the theory that he/she was misled, lacked information, or signed under duress or misunderstanding. It is similar to an "adhesion contract," in which one party has taken advantage of a person dealing from weakness. (See: contract, adhesion contract)


adjective atrocious, blackguard, completely unreasonable, conniving, conscienceless, corrupt, criminal, designing, dishonest, dishonorable, excessive, exorbitant, extreme, grievous, grossly unjust, immoderate, impermissible, indefensible, inequitable, inexcusable, inexpiable, inordinate, intemperate, intriguing, knavish, monstrous, outrageous, preposterous, rascally, reprehensible, tricky, unbalanced, undue, unequal, unethical, unfair, unforgivable, unjust, unjustifiable, unprincipled, unreasonable, unscrupulous, wrong
Associated concepts: unconscionable bargain, unconncionable conduct, unconscionable contract
See also: excessive, exorbitant, immoral, inordinate, outrageous, perfidious, prohibitive, reprobate, unethical, unwarranted, usurious


morally abhorrent. In the legal context, from time to time and place to place the law insofar as not already incorporating moral issues allows exceptions to allow parties some degree of relief from being imposed upon. The modern legal conception tends to be discussed around the more practical and objective concept of inequality of bargaining position, which can help consumers as much as the more traditional beneficiary of protection the small debtor pressed for excessive interest or repossession.
References in periodicals archive ?
declarations, based on admissions by Coles, that Coles engaged in unconscionable conduct with respect to a number of suppliers in 2011, in contravention of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL); and pecuniary penalties.
These attacks are a grave violation of human rights and an unconscionable crime against humanity.
He said the court "limits the application to this contract of Keeneland's Conditions of Sale, specifically the 14-day limited warranty period, as it is unconscionable based on the facts of the case.
Where the court exercises the equitable principle of inequality of bargaining power, the defaulting party will be released from its obligations under the unconscionable contract.
Thus, when an arbitration provision is" hidden in a maze of fine print and minimized by deceptive sales practices," the provision may well be procedurally unconscionable.
The trial court found the whole arbitration clause to be unconscionable and unenforceable, and the appellate court found that the arbitration clause was enforceable but the ban on class arbitration was not.
Many oppose its use, and the European Union has taken the unconscionable public stance that if Uganda and other East African countries begin spraying with DDT, they can expect trade sanctions.
Comparing the harrowing experience of meth addiction to a cheap thrill is an unconscionable act," he declared.
And treating those students like sacrificial lambs by diverting funds to feed the civic ambitions of an elite few is unconscionable.
It's unconscionable for teachers to allow their own limitations to impair a student's progress.
Passing the collection plate to the taxpayer is unconscionable.
It is unconscionable that we as a church require the commitment indicated in your Primate by numbers story.