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Caveat Emptor Sales Of Good Act Implied Terms

1694 words - 7 pages

The Latin principle of caveat emptor literally meaning let the buyer beware, has been followed for many years by the English courts in the context of business transactions. Pre the industrial revolution the action for breach of contractual rights needed a written warranty otherwise action could only be brought on the grounds of fraud. The reasoning for such action was based on the manner in which business was conducted, that is, namely at small fairs where buyers could inspect the goods and haggle accordingly. This is evidenced in cases such as Chandelor v Lopus in which a plaintiff brought an action against the defendant in relation to a Bezoar stone which was thought to have medicinal properties. In this instance, the majority of the court ruled that in the absence of a written warranty the defendant could be not liable however, the period surrounding and following the industrial revolution saw a change in how sellers conducted their business, as a result the courts and law makers began to recognise the need for non-written warranties to be upheld and the obligations thereby placed on sellers in relation to the quality of their goods. The culminative effect of which was the introduction of the Sale of Goods Act 1893. It was the introduction of this legislation and the subsequent Sale of Goods Act 1979 which was modified to bring the legislation in line with modern consumerism that purports to have brought to an end the principle of caveat emptor. In particular the implied terms stipulated in sections 12-15 of the Sale of Goods Act 1979, which are labelled as either conditions or warranties. The effect of a breach of a condition will allow the innocent party to repudiate the contract, whereas a breach of warranty will give rise only to damages.
Historically, commercial law was governed by the rules of lex mercatoria, emphasising contractual freedom and also the alienability of property. It initially began as separate to common law, being administered in specialist courts. This was the situation until Lord Mansfield incorporated the rules of lex mercatoria into the common law system. It was this mergence that saw Lord Mansfield becoming known as ‘the founder of commercial law within this country [United Kingdom]’, due to his ability to harmonise ‘commercial custom and the common law ...with an almost complete understanding of the commercial community, and the fundamental principles of the old law and that that marriage of idea proved acceptable to both merchants and lawyers.’ At this stage, the principle of caveat emptor was utilised as a guiding principle for the courts, devised namely in response to the manner in which business at this time was undertaken. This was in response to the manner in which business was conducted, namely in small fairs with small quantities of goods being bought and sold, buyers were afforded the opportunity to inspect the goods and use their own knowledge and skill to determine whether or not to purchase them. As...

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