Trakman and Sharma, ‘The Binding Force of Agreements to Negotiate in Good Faith’

This article evaluates the established judicial proposition that an agreement to negotiate in good faith is antithetical to the principles of the common law. English courts are reluctant to enforce such agreements on the ground that they constitute unenforceable “agreements to agree”. Recently, courts have started to recognise an exception in cases where parties agree to negotiate over a term mandated by an existing agreement, such as to review a price clause or resolve a dispute by undertaking negotiations in good faith. The primary arguments against enforcing an independent agreement to negotiate in good faith are threefold. First, parties engaged in good faith negotiations are assumed to lack a serious legal intention to contract. Second, such an agreement is substantively uncertain in nature and does not promise to produce a contract. Third, the failure of parties to conclude their negotiations does not lead to an easily identifiable loss. In light of these considerations, this article considers the viability of enforcing an agreement to negotiate in good faith in the absence of a pre-existing contract. It argues that the legal obstacles to recognising agreements to negotiate have been overstated. Given the commercial value of enforcing such agreements, it proposes that agreements to negotiate in good faith should be recognised and given legal content by common law courts.

Leon E Trakman and Kunal Sharma, The Binding Force Of Agreements To Negotiate In Good Faith. Cambridge Law Journal / Volume 73 / Issue 03 / November 2014, pp 598-628, DOI:, Published online: 2 December 2014.

First posted 2014-12-03 07:22:21

Leave a Reply