Posted: Wednesday, 26 August 2009 @ 15:47
I am sure that all buyers (and most sellers) will want to make sure that goods sold are of satisfactory quality and do the job intended. But what is the remedy when things go wrong, for example the steel supplied is not up to the job, the cattle food makes the cattle ill, the computer does not live up to its billing, or the machinery keeps breaking down?
Sale of goods law provides remedies for buyers where the goods are not of "satisfactory quality". A recent High Court case confirmed that it was necessary to consider what a reasonable person would consider satisfactory in all the circumstances.
Relevant facts are the price paid, the description, the normal uses for the goods, the condition on delivery (free from minor defects?), appearance, safety and durability, but that is not all. If the buyer has told the seller that the goods are for a particular purpose, or the seller should be aware of the purpose from the information available to it or from dealings with the buyer, the goods must be suitable for that purpose. The seller will only be able to get off the hook if he can make out that it would be unreasonable for the buyer to rely on the seller's skill.
These issues often crop up in the sale of IT equipment and software. If a buyer is ordering a new computer system with bespoke software, he would expect the seller to have the higher skill and ask the right questions to make sure that the system was suitable. In off the shelf sales where the buyer has given no information, a claim could only be made if the goods were not of satisfactory quality for their normal use.
Vehicles are another hot area. If they keep breaking down in the months after delivery, then that must be evidence of unsatisfactory quality, as in this day and age we expect our vehicles, whether they be cars, vans, lorries, or tractors, to function without a hiccup for years. Of course if the car was being used for rallying, or the truck was being used for a Monster Drag race, that would be different, unless of course the intended use had been made clear to the dealer!
Consumers have additional rights. If good are not of satisfactory quality at any time within 6 months of delivery, they have the right to demand in most cases either that the goods are repaired or replaced, and the choice is theirs.
For advice on sale of goods and contract disputes contact:
Business and Litigation Solicitor
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