As business owners (and human beings!) it’s important that we understand the concept of the Bonus Pater Familias/Reasonable Man.

It forms part of South African common law and serves as a comparative standard of care for determining liability.

The judge in the case Herschel v Mvrupe 1954 (3) SA 464 (A) beautifully explained the Roman-Dutch concept of bonus pater familias, at times similarly referred to as the reasonable man, as follows:


”The concept of the bonus pater familias is not that of a timorous faintheart always in trepidation lest he or others suffer some injury; on the contrary, he ventures out into the world, engages in affairs and takes reasonable chances. He takes reasonable precautions to protect his person and property and expects others to do likewise.”


The reasonable person/man or bonus parter familias is, therefore, one who steps out into the world with careful confidence, taking calculated risks and moving forward not in fear but in faith. He expects others to do the same.

This concept, with the objective to maintain the peace and well-being of our community, forms an integral part of the mindfulness practices I apply. To avoid legal liability, you should always follow this standard of care.

Book a session with me to learn more about your duty of care and the test the court applies to determine liability.

Image credit
Photographer: Lesca Lea

About the author

Leave a Reply