The law and economics of good faith in the civil law of contract
Is part ofEuropean Association of Law and Economics. Conference ; Nancy (France), 2003-09-18 - 2003-09-20.
Good faith plays a central role in most legal systems, yet appears to be an intractable concept. This article proposes to analyse it economically as the absence of opportunism in circumstances which lend themselves to it. One of the objectives underlying the law of contract on an economic view is to curtail opportunism. In spelling out what this means, the paper proposes a three-step test: bad faith is present where a substantial informational or other asymmetry exists between the parties, which one of them turns into an undue advantage, considered against the gains both parties could normally expect to realise through the contract, and where loss to the disadvantaged party is so serious as to provoke recourse to expensive self-protection, which significantly raises transactions costs in the market. The three-step test is then used to analyse a set of recent decisions in international commercial transactions and three concepts derived from good faith: fraud, warranty for latent defects and lesion.