Good Faith is not Dead: It still Lives after Beadica 231 CC v Trustees, Oregon Trust
Author: Michele van Eck
Affiliations: Senior Lecturer, Department of Private Law, University of Johannesburg
Source: South African Mercantile Law Journal, Volume 34 Issue 1, 2021, p. 29 – 51
In Beadica 231 CC v Trustees, Oregon Trust, the Constitutional Court provided much-needed clarity on the role of equity principles (fairness, reasonableness and good faith) in contracts, in that the abstract principles found in equity principles will not apply directly to contractual engagements but will apply indirectly by means of public policy considerations. This article illustrates that this default position, as articulated by the Constitutional Court, does not completely exclude good faith in contractual engagements. In fact, good faith is infused in the entire contract lifecycle, starting from negotiation and presenting itself even in certain remedial action. In addition, there are a number of exceptions to the default position in that equity principles can be established by means of express incidentalia (in the form of good faith clauses), and could even be imported ex lege in consumer contracts by means of the Consumer Protection Act 68 of 2008. It can therefore be said that the operation of equity principles, such as good faith, in South African contractual engagements is neither dead nor obsolete. Rather, good faith has survived the Constitutional Court’s decision and continues to manifest itself in different ways in contracts reaffirming the place of good faith as a cornerstone principle in the operation of the law of contract.