Is there a duty of good faith in English contract law?

Jeanette Ashton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the much quoted Interfoto Picture Library Ltd v Stiletto Visual Programmes Ltd 2, Bingham LJ as he then was described good faith, as recognised by many civil law systems, as “perhaps most aptly conveyed by such metaphorical colloquialisms as ‘playing fair’, ‘coming clean’ or ‘putting one’s cards face upwards on the table’. It is in essence a principle of fair open dealing...” and one which, he said, has not traditionally been recognised by English law which, has instead “developed piecemeal solutions in response to demonstrated problems of unfairness”. In the recent High Court case Yam Seng Pte Ltd v International Trade Corp Ltd, Leggatt J, whilst acknowledging the historic reluctance of the English courts to recognise a duty to perform contracts in good faith, examined the concept at length and found that the duty could be implied without difficulty based on the presumed intentions of the parties and the relevant background against which the contract was made. This article briefly examines the traditional position of the English courts; considers the influence of European law and European attempts to harmonise the contract law of EU member states and suggests that Yam Seng Pte Ltd may give an indication of the future approach of the English courts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14-15
Number of pages2
JournalStudent Law Review
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jan 2014


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