Uberrima Fides: Foucault and the security of uncertainty

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Uberrima Fides is a legal doctrine that governs insurance contracts and expects all parties to the insurance agreement to act in good faith by declaring all material facts relative to a policy. The doctrine originated in England in 1766 with the case Carter v Boehm ruled by Lord Mansfield. Ever since, it has become, with some differences in interpretation, a cornerstone of insurance relationships around the world. The role that trust plays within it, however, is not simple and should not be taken for granted. While it is expected that an idea of trust represents an order of truth, trust in itself is the outcome of a complex negotiation of moral orders. Semiotically, trust operates here not as a Kantian category for the understanding but as a signifier of an order of truth that upholds the possibility for insurance relationships. Trust, as sign, operates as a condition of possibility for the performance of insurance. In this article, a Foucaultian approach is employed to problematise the idea of trust and its role in insurance relationships. The case of mis-selling of insurance policies in the United Kingdom since the 1980s, which has given rise to numerous legal rulings, is used as the empirical site for the problematisation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-37
JournalInternational Journal for the Semiotics of Law
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


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