n Stellenbosch Law Review = Stellenbosch Regstydskrif - Reciprocity in contract law

Volume 24, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1016-4359
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2193



Most modern contracts are bilateral in nature, implying a mutual exchange of promises in content. This raises the question of when such promises create obligations which can be said to be reciprocal. Furthermore, what remedy will a party have if a reciprocal performance is not forthcoming? This article aims to explore the concept of reciprocity in contracts historically and comparatively to demonstrate its impact on contract law worldwide. This will involve an excursus of the major contract law rules which this principle underlies. The contribution will explore in brief the major problem areas in South Africa (and worldwide) where reciprocity plays a determinative role. The main argument is that reciprocity, in the sense of fairness in exchange, is central to many South African contracts; without it contractual validity may be threatened and enforceability is lost.

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