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Professor Burrows calls it “one of the most exciting modern developments” in the civil law;1 others see it as a nebulous category that should be expunged from the private law.2 Both sides agree on a solitary point: the boundaries of economic duress are uncertain. The doctrine longs for bright dividing lines. Despite this, ultimate appellate courts continually paint fuzzy outlines, creating obscurity when the comfort of commercial certainty is required. Borrelli v. Ting3 is no different.
In late 1999 Akai Holdings Ltd (“Akai”) collapsed. Within the previous 12 months, over US$2 billion in gross assets had inexplicably vanished. Accordingly, its failure formed one of the largest corporate insolvencies in Hong Kong’s history. James Henry Ting was Akai’s then chairman. Following the company’s demise, Mr Ting systematically refused to cooperate with Akai’s liquidators as they investigated its affairs.4 Further,