Legal update: international trade and commodities — April 2013
Ince & Co has published the April 2013 edition of its International Trade and Commodities Legal Update. It covers topics including sale of goods, shipping and commercial litigation.
Traditionally, English law does not recognise a general duty of good faith applicable to contracts (with certain limited exceptions, such as insurance contracts). Rather, the English courts recognise the right and freedom of commercial contracting parties to enter into an agreement on whatever terms they see fit and to prioritise their own self-interest (subject obviously to the usual constraints imposed by considerations of public policy, illegality etc.). This is so irrespective of whether or not the courts might otherwise consider that one or other party has made a bad bargain or compromised itself commercially by what it has agreed to. The overriding principle is that the English courts will not rewrite the parties’ contract for them. Therefore, where it is intended that one or both parties should perform any or all of their obligations under a contract in good faith, this should be provided for expressly in the contract…
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It is a fundamental principle of English law that when assessing damages for breach of contract, any damages awarded should compensate the innocent party for the loss of its contractual bargain.
The Athena was a dispute about the meaning of the familiar NYPE off-hire clause (clause 15).