Constitutionalism, Good Faith and the Doctrine of Specific Performance: Rights, Duties and Equitable Discretion

Authors Luca Siliquini-Cinelli, Andrew Hutchison

ISSN: 1996-2177
Affiliations: Lecturer in the School of Law, Deakin University; Associate Professor in the Department of Commercial Law, University of Cape Town
Source: South African Law Journal, Volume 133 Issue 1, 2016, p. 73 – 101


This article will explore the European roots of the doctrine of specific performance and the influence of transformative constitutionalism on these in recent times. The question whether specific performance is available as of right (as in the civil law), or only subject to judicial discretion (as in the common law), will be investigated. The demonstrated impact of constitutional rights on contract law in the mixed system of South Africa will be contrasted with developments in English and Australian contract law, where the common-law rules are more deeply entrenched and the potential scope for human rights-based development of these is arguably smaller, though still important. The article will argue, using comparative rules on specific performance as an example, that the concept of a duty of good faith or contractual fairness is likely to play a greater role in future in all three of the countries under consideration, reducing the common/civil/mixed legal systems divide.