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The role of the principles of good faith and ubuntu in the law of contract | Knowledge

The role of the principles of good faith and ubuntu in the law of contract | Knowledge

Historically, the roles of fairness, reasonableness and great religion in the regulation of deal have been the issue of debate one of the most controversial difficulties is no matter whether a court can refuse to enforce a valid deal if it considers that the enforcement would be unfair, unreasonable, or unduly harsh. In gentle of this, our courts have developed principles governing the enforcement of contracts, by means of rules these types of as good religion and ubuntu.

In the distinguishable situation of S v Makwanyane and A different 1995 (3) SA 391 (CC) 484, the Constitutional Court docket clarifies ubuntu as humaneness, personhood and morality.  Metaphorically, it expresses alone in umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu, describing the importance of team solidarity on survival concerns so central to the survival of communities. The court stresses that the spirit of ubuntu “…emphasises respect for human dignity, marking a shift from confrontation to conciliation…”

Considering that the arrival of the constitutional dispensation, the basic principle of great religion now derives its force from the Structure and the values enshrined in it. These values include things like human dignity, the achievement of equality and the improvement of human legal rights and freedoms, and the rule of law. Included into our law as a constitutional worth is the theory of ubuntu  ubuntu in change, informs the principle of community coverage.

HM Du Plessis, a senior lecturer in the University of South Africa[1],  makes a important distinction in between the idea of fantastic faith and ubuntu and provides that whilst both of those notions inspire contractual justice amongst the parties, ubuntu incorporates an extra obligation to promote the parties’ and community’s social and economic nicely-remaining.  As a result, contrary to superior religion, ubuntu is worried with advertising substantive equality in non-public relationships

It is versus this background, that we set out a timeline down below on how the courts have applied the principles of very good religion and ubuntu, which has influenced the interpretation of contracts about time.

Fantastic faith and ubuntu, from a scenario law assessment:



  1. Sasfin (Pty) Ltd v Beukes [1989] (1) SA 1 (A) 7
    1. The courtroom held that the interests of the local community or the general public are of paramount relevance in relation to the thought of public plan. In addition, that agreements which are evidently inimical to the desire of the community, no matter if they are opposite to law or morality, or run counter to social or financial expedience, will accordingly, on the grounds of public coverage, not be enforced.
    2. Nonetheless, the court docket cautions that the electric power to declare contracts opposite to public policy must be exercised sparingly and only in the clearest of instances. Additionally, that 1 ought to be careful not to conclude that a contract is opposite to public policy basically due to the fact its terms (or some of them) offend one’s particular person feeling of propriety and fairness.
  2. Brisley v Drotsky 2002 (12) BCLR 1229 (SCA)
    1. This case laid the basis in regard of the method that governs the theory of superior religion in the legislation of contract.In this case, the court docket held that the basic principle of good faith informs the substantive regulation of agreement by accomplishing a resourceful, controlling, and legitimating operate.
    2. The Supreme Court docket of Enchantment emphasizes, even so, that great religion does not type an impartial or a freestanding foundation on which a court docket might refuse to enforce a contractual provision, and that accepting it as a self-standing basis would introduce an unacceptable state of uncertainty into the legislation of agreement.
  3. Afrox Health care v Strydom [2002] 4 All SA 125 (SCA)
    1. The Supreme Courtroom of Appeal held that courts do not establish the enforceability of contractual provisions dependent on abstract concepts such as very good religion, reasonableness, and fairness, but only through applying founded authorized principles. The courtroom even further stated that while these rules variety the basis of our lawful guidelines, they are not by themselves authorized rules.
  4. Barkhuizen v Napier 2007 (7) BCLR 691 (CC)
    1. This situation performed a important aspect in figuring out the function of good faith and ubuntu in the regulation of agreement in South Africa.
    2. In this circumstance, the Constitutional Courtroom made a two-stage enquiry when analyzing fairness:
      1. The 1st stage entails thinking about the dilemma whether or not the clause itself is unreasonable and contrary to public policy and if the clause is uncovered to be sensible, the courtroom will then appear into the second inquiry.
      2. In phrases of the second enquiry, the court will have to determine no matter whether the clause ought to be enforced taking into consideration the particular conditions of that individual case.
  5. Bredenkamp v Normal Lender of SA [2010] 4 All SA 113 (SCA)
    1. The Supreme Court docket of Enchantment concluded that fairness was not a freestanding necessity of a contractual ideal and even more crystalized the two-phase inquiry established in the Barkhuizen case.
  6. Beadica 231 CC v Trustees for the Time Becoming of the Oregon Trust 2020 (9) BCLR 1098 (CC)
    1. The majority in the Constitutional Court docket emphasised that elements this kind of as ubuntu, very good religion, fairness and community plan play an significant job in the software and interpretation of agreement legislation. Most importantly these aspects are essential to establish substantive fairness in contracts. The software of these concepts is facilitated through the guidelines of contract legislation and it is only where it is so unfair, unreasonable or unjust that it can be claimed that it is contrary to public policy.


The above circumstance legislation emphasizes the placement that ideas these as very good faith, fairness, reasonableness and ubuntu do not provide a no cost-standing foundation upon which a court may possibly interfere in contractual associations but rather that the software of these concepts is facilitated by means of the guidelines of deal regulation and it is only where by it is so unfair, unreasonable or unjust that it can be claimed that a court could interfere with an agreement by thinking about concepts these kinds of as very good religion and ubuntu.

This write-up was geared up by husband or wife Bianca Da Costa, senior associate Andricia Hinckemann as very well as applicant lawyers Barr-Mary Tyzack and Caleb Mapatha.