Good faith

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Good faith (Latin: bona fides) is a concept used in law and philosophy which denotes fair and open dealing in human interactions. This is often thought to require sincere, honest intentions or beliefs, regardless of the outcome of an action. The opposed concepts are bad faith, mala fides (duplicity) and perfidy (pretense). In law, bona fides is the concept having good intentions and honesty in dealings with others. In American English the usage of bona fides is synonymous with credentials and identity.

Bona fides[edit]

Bona fides is the Roman language word for the concept of a person's honesty and sincerity of intention (in other words modern day translation to good faith).[1] Bona fide is the Roman language word for the concept translated today to mean genuine or real; having sincere intentions without deception.[2]

While modern ideas relate fides to faith, a technical translation of the concept held by the Romans would be something like "reliability". The idea of a sense of trust between two parties for the potentiality of a relationship. It was always assumed by both sides, had implied responsibilities, and both legal and religious consequences if broken.[3] It was one of the original virtues to be considered a religious "divinity".


Main article: Good faith (law)

In law, bona fides denotes the mental and moral states of honesty and conviction regarding either the truth or the falsity of a proposition, or of a body of opinion; likewise regarding either the rectitude or the depravity of a line of conduct.
As a legal concept bona fides is especially important in matters of equity (see Contract).[4][5] In contract law, the implied covenant of good faith is a general presumption that the parties to a contract will deal with each other honestly and fairly, so as not to destroy the right of the other party or parties to receive the benefits of the contract. In insurance law, the insurer's breach of the implied covenant may give rise to a legal liability known as insurance bad faith.
Most U.S. jurisdictions view breaches of implied covenants of good faith and fair dealing solely as a variant of breach of contract. Linguistically, in the U.S., American English usage of bona fides applies it as synonymous with credentials, professional background, and documents attesting a person's identity, which is not synonymous with bona fide occupational qualifications. More recently, other common law countries have begun to adopt good faith as a general principle. In the UK, the High Court in Yam Seng Pte Ltd v Int Trade Corp Ltd[6] expressed this preference. In Canada, the Supreme Court declared in Bhasin v. Hrynew that good faith was a general organising principle.[7]


In philosophy, the concept of good faith denotes sincere, honest intention or belief, regardless of the outcome of an action; the opposed concepts are bad faith, mala fides (duplicity) and perfidy (pretense).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ late 18th century: Latin, literally ‘good faith’.
  2. ^ mid 16th century: Latin, literally ‘with good faith’, ablative singular of bona fides.
  3. ^ Adams John P.THE ROMAN CONCEPT OF FIDES., May 2009. Retrieved Jan 2015.
  4. ^ "good faith". Retrieved 2008-03-03. 
  5. ^ Good Faith as an international principle of law
  6. ^ [2013] EWHC 111
  7. ^ (2014) SCC 71

External links[edit]