DOCTRINE OF CAVEAT EMPTOR AND IT’S EXCEPTION

The doctrine of caveat emptor lays down an essential precept that a customer will be privy to his obligation to test the quality and suitability of the product that he’s buying and as soon as he’s satisfied, he shall have no right to reject the product. The doctrine is primarily based totally on a presumption that a purchaser possesses capabilities and judgment to be confident of the quality of a product. Thus, a supplier need to now no longer be held responsible if the product does no longer stay as much as the purchaser’s potential. A commercial transaction includes  two parties i.e. supplier and customer, each need to take each care to shield their personal hobbies and rights. When someone is shopping for items, he need to look at them very well as the vendor is under no responsibility to reveal the complete truth about the goods. The meaning of the maxim caveat emptor is “let the buyer beware” this means that that the customer has an obligation closer to supplier to offer him information about his requirement and the vendor will deliver as according to his requirements. The precept of caveat emptor applies in case of buy of precise items wherein he can use his personal judgment and should purchase items in his personal obligation. For e.g. purchase of a guitar. Section 16 of the Sale of Goods Act provides that ” Subject to the provisions of this act or any other law for the time being in force there is not implied condition or warranty as to quality or fitness for any particular purpose of goods supplied.”

The exceptions to the rule are:

  • Where the seller make a false representation and the buyer relies on that representation.
  • Where the seller actively conceals a defect in the goods, so that on a reasonable examination the same could not be discovered.
  • Where the goods are purchased by description and they do not correspond with the description.
  • Where the goods are purchased by description from a seller who deals in goods of that description and the goods are not of “merchantable quality.”
  • Where the goods are purchased by sample and the bulk does not correspond with the sample.
  • Where the goods are purchased by sample as well as by description and the bulk does not correspond both with the sample and with the description.

In Ward v. Hobbes (1878) 4 AC 13, the House of Lords held that a vendor cannot be expected to use artifice or disguise to conceal the defects in the product sold, since that would amount to fraud on the vendee; yet the doctrine of caveat emptor does not impose duty on vendor to disclose each and every defect in the product. The caveat emptor imposes such obligation on vendee to use care and skill while purchasing such product.

In Wallis v. Russel (1902) 2 IR 585, the Court of Appeal explained the scope of caveat emptor- “Caveat emptor does not mean in law that the buyer must “take a chance,” it means he must “take care.” It applies to the purchase of specific things, e.g. a horse, or a picture, upon which the buyer can, and usually does, exercise his own judgment; it applies also whenever the buyer voluntarily chooses what he buys; it applies also whereby usage or otherwise it is a term of the contract, that the buyer shall not rely on the skill or judgment of the seller.”

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