Attaining uniformity in the meaning and application of good faith in international trade instruments

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

The objective of this dissertation is to ascertain whether it is possible to have a universally acceptable meaning of good faith and if indeed such a meaning can finally lead to uniformity in the application of the concept in international commercial transactions. It will be argued that such uniformity is possible but that it cannot be achieved without addressing the obstacles that have prevented a uniform adoption of the concept to date and how such difficulties can be solved in international trade. In answering the above question the dissertation will look into the meaning and application of the concept of good faith within international trade instruments, primarily article 7(1) and (2) of the Convention on the International Sale of Goods (CISG); article 1.7 of the UNIDROIT Principles on International Commercial Contracts, and the Principles of European Contract Law (PECL). The purpose of considering these instruments is to identify the current difficulties in the meaning and application of good faith in international commercial transactions and how they can be addressed if uniformity is to be attained. Furthermore the dissertation will also examine the different definitions of good faith and the methods of application adopted by major European legal systems, particularly the German civil code, the Dutch civil code, the Uniform Commercial Code and the position in English law. The purpose for considering these domestic legislations is to identify the possible meaning and application that will be given to good faith in situations where courts and tribunals gap fill with reference to national laws.