The doctrine of Caveat Emptor: Meaning
The doctrine of caveat emptor means ” Let the buyer beware “.
• It is applicable in a contract of sale. The object of this doctrine is that, when a contract of sale is made between the buyer and the seller, it is the duty of the buyer to examine the goods to his satisfaction before he buys them. The seller of goods is not obliged to point out the defects in the goods he is selling.
• When a buyer has bought the goods of his own will and after examining them properly then the seller is not liable . afterward.
( 1 ) Where the buyer relies on the skill and judgment of the seller.
When the buyer makes known his requirements to the seller of what he expects from the goods or how he intends to use them and relies on the skill and judgment of the seller, and the deal is made by the seller or manufacturer with the buyer on such understanding, the doctrine of caveat emptor is not applicable. applicable.
• Under such circumstances, it becomes the duty of the seller to provide quality goods to the buyer that meet his specific requirements .
• B purchased timber from C and the fact was made known to the seller that the timber was to be used for railway sleepers. It was held that B could reject the timber as it was not fit for the purpose.
( 2 ) Fitness for a particular purpose The implied condition about the fitness of goods for a particular purpose in terms of quality and usability, in some circumstances, depends on the customs or practices of trade, and the doctrine of buyer beware ‘ is not applicable.
• For example: when a person buys a water cooler, the implied condition is that it cools the water.
( 3 ) Sale by description
• When the sale of goods is made by description, it involves some implied conditions and warranties, and the caveat emptor doctrine is not applicable.
• The goods sold otherwise must match their description, can refuse to accept the goods, and is entitled to receive damages from P the seller.
Case: Warley vs. Whipp
• In this case, A promised to sell a machine to B which B had not seen. A had said that the machine was only a year old and had been sparsely used. The machine was found, not to match its description after delivery. It was too old, and the buyer returned it. It was held that since the machine did not match its description, A had a right to receive a price for it from B. So in this case Doctrine of Caveat Emptor doesn’t apply.
( 4 ) Sale by fraud
• The doctrine of caveat emptor shall not apply to all those purchases which have been made by a buyer under a contract where his consent was obtained by the seller by fraud i.e. where the buyer relies on false representation of the seller and suffers damages. A seller, who is guilty of fraud, shall have no protection from the doctrine of caveat emptor.
( 5 ) Latent defects
The seller is responsible to the buyer for all such defects in goods that are not apparent to a person of normal intelligence. The responsibility of the buyer to examine the goods for any defects is limited to the extent where the defects are apparent and can be Spotted by the buyer.
• The buyer cannot spot the latent defects in goods that are not apparent when he examines the goods. The liability for such defects is, therefore, the seller.
Case: Modi vs. Gregson
In this case, there was a hidden or latent defect in the cloth supplied by the seller which made it unusable for coats. The court held the seller guilty because, even after a thorough exam of the sample, it was not possible to pinpoint the defect in the material.