Good Faith

Author:Jeffrey Lehman, Shirelle Phelps
 
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Honesty; a sincere intention to deal fairly with others.

Good faith is an abstract and comprehensive term that encompasses a sincere belief or motive without any malice or the desire to defraud others. It derives from the translation of the Latin

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term bona fide, and courts use the two terms interchangeably.

The term good faith is used in many areas of the law but has special significance in COMMERCIAL LAW. A good faith purchaser for value is protected by the UNIFORM COMMERCIAL CODE, which every state has adopted. Under sections 1-201(9) and 2-403 of the code, a merchant may keep possession of goods that were bought from a seller who did not have title to the goods, if the merchant can show he or she was a good faith purchaser for value. To meet this test, the person must be a merchant, must have demonstrated honesty in the conduct of the transaction concerned, and must have observed reasonable commercial standards of fair dealing in the trade. A buyer would likely meet these requirements if the purchase proceeded in the ordinary course of business. If, on the other hand, the purchase took place under unusual or suspicious circumstances, a court might conclude that the buyer lacked good faith.

Where a nonmerchant purchases property that the seller lacks legal title to convey, the issue of good faith is known both as the innocent purchaser doctrine and as the bona fide purchaser doctrine. If the purchaser acquires the property by an honest contract or agreement and without knowledge of any defect in the title of the seller, or means of knowledge sufficient to charge the buyer with such knowledge, the purchaser is deemed innocent.

In both commercial and noncommercial law, persons who in good faith pay a fraudulent seller valuable consideration for property are protected from another person who claims legal title to the property. If a court establishes the purchaser's good faith defense, the person who claims title has recourse only against the fraudulent seller. Strong public policy is behind the good faith defense. Good faith doctrines enhance the flow of goods in commerce, as under them, buyers are not required, in the ordinary course of business, to go to extraordinary efforts to determine whether sellers actually have good title. A purchaser can move quickly to close a deal with the knowledge that a fraudulent seller and a legitimate titleholder will have to sort the issue out in court. Of...

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