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"Acting in bad faith"

Discussion in 'English Only' started by panzerfaust0, Jun 19, 2012.

  1. panzerfaust0 Senior Member


    I looked up bad faith in both wikipedia and wisegeek however I felt that they dwelt too much on the philosophical side of things. I just want to know how to use this term in everyday English.

    Can I take it to mean that it simply means someone is intending to deceive? As in, let's say there are two people. Person A says to B, if you can do xyz for me, I give you 5 bucks. Person B goes and does it, then returns for the reward. Person A then says, "you realize I didn't specify WHEN I will give you the 5 dollars, right"? Would A be engaged in an act of bad faith?

    Can you think of more examples of bad faith? Is it tantamount to being deceptive, or is there a slight difference/s?

  2. JamesM

    JamesM Senior Member

    Bad faith involves breaking trust, in my opinion. Your example fits my definition of acting in bad faith. However, if I say "My car is a Mercedes" and the car is obviously a BMW with a Mercedes logo glued on it, that's an intention to be deceptive but it's not acting in bad faith, in my opinion.

    In other words, someone being deceptive may not be acting in bad faith. There has to be some agreement, express or implied, that is broken.
  3. macforever Senior Member

    When you act with bad or dishonest intent, without sincerity, with duplicity, etc.
  4. JamesM

    JamesM Senior Member

    I think that's a little too broad a definition. If I say "My! Isn't your daughter pretty!" when I actually think she is hideous but I don't want to hurt her feelings, I am not sincere. However, that is not an example of acting in bad faith.
  5. covar Senior Member

    What Are the Causes of Action in Bad Faith in a Contract?

    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 20, 2012
  6. panzerfaust0 Senior Member

    Dude I like your mercedes example however I am afraid I am still confused about what exactly constitutes "bad faith".

    So if it involves the breaking of trust, does that mean in order for one party to act in "bad faith", there has to be some level of trust built up between him/her and the other party? If yes, wouldn't that be perfidy?

    I am starting to think maybe the term bad faith is not meant to be used in an everyday context. Look at its wikipedia entry, it's all law, insurance, scholarly stuff that involves it. I don't think I have heard of anyone in real life use the words bad faith and I been here for 17 years now.
  7. JamesM

    JamesM Senior Member

    Yes, absolutely. I would say that there has to be some level of trust and a transaction of some kind (or an agreement that involves mutually binding standards).

    Perfidy is far less common in conversation than "acting in bad faith", in my experience. :)

    It's not a common phrase in everyday conversation, no. However, it doesn't have to be a legal setting. It can be about a soapbox derby, a singing competition, the sale of a car to a friend or any other situation where an agreement is involved.
  8. Myridon

    Myridon Senior Member

    English - US
    I think people sometimes use "not acting in good faith" instead of "acting in bad faith". It's less accusatory and I think it may also cover any "grey areas" or "middle ground" in between "good" and "bad".
  9. pwmeek

    pwmeek Senior Member

    SE Michigan, USA
    English - American
    "in bad faith" is often used in describing negotiations. If one side proposes (but does not actually contract) to do something or accept some condition, and then later refuses to include it in the final contract, they are said to have negotiated in bad faith.

    Negotiators are expected to only make suggestions or offers which they would honor if the other side accepted them, that is: to negotiate in good faith.

    If I offered $100,000 for a house (which might discourage the seller from accepting other offers) and then later, when writing the actual sale contract, said: "No, I am only willing to pay $90,000; take it or leave it," then I would have acted in bad faith. My action might have caused the seller to lose a chance to sell to someone else for $95,000.

    In labor contract negotiations, making an offer which is so unreasonable that the other side would never accept it, is often asserted to be negotiating in bad faith, but usually this is simply rhetoric, intended for release to the media. Actual negotiators recognize that early offers are frequently unreasonable, just to leave room for bargaining.
  10. panzerfaust0 Senior Member

    So "acting in bad faith" means one sets out to try to defraud the other in some sort of transaction. He/she does not have any intention to treat the other party fairly.

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