LEGAL PERSPECTIVE: Quality & Suitability of Goods by Dr AbdelGadir Warsama, Legal Counsel


There is no implied condition or warranty, in sales, as to quality and fitness for a particular purpose except as provided by law. This preserves the idea of Caveat Emptor, or let the buyer beware. The implied conditions apply, where seller sells goods in the course of a business, not to sales by private individuals. So if you buy something privately and it is defective or unsuitable you cannot complain.

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The law implies two conditions into every sale that, goods are of merchantable quality and are fit for a particular purpose. So where seller sells goods in the course of a business, there is an implied condition that goods supplied are of merchantable quality, except defects brought specifically to buyers attention before the deal or ought to have been noticed by the buyer if he examined the goods.

Goods are of merchantable quality, if they are fit for the purpose for which goods of that kind are commonly bought. It is reasonable to have regard to any description applied to them, as the price and all other relevant circumstances. This means that a brand new car should work properly. However, goods don’t have to measure up to an absolute standard of quality.

A buyer is not obliged to examine goods before he buys them and if he chooses not to do so he will still be entitled to full protection under the law. The buyer can lose his right to complain in two situations, where seller specifically points out that the goods are faulty and where he decides to check the goods but fails to spot an obvious defect.

Where seller sells goods in the course of a business and the buyer expressly or impliedly, makes known to seller any particular purpose for which goods are being bought there is an implied condition that goods supplied are reasonably fit for that purpose except where it can be shown that the buyer has not relied or that it would be unreasonable for him to rely on the seller skill and judgment. If the buyer specifies particular purpose for which he requires goods, they must be suitable for that purpose. Where the buyer purchases goods with only one normal purpose, he makes his purpose known by implication. Herein, food must be fit for eating and clothes fit for wearing. Generally, protection plus honesty is needed form all.

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