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IMPLIED CONDITIONS IN THE SALE OF GOODS.

By : sreekumar.c.nair on 11 September 2008 Report Abuse Print Print this
 



INTRODUCTION.

As a general rule when a person buys something it is his duty to see whether that something suits his purpose or not .He cannot hold any body responsible for making a bad choice. This is known as the doctrine of caveat emptor when seller gives express condition or warranty regarding a product; he is bound to honor that. In case the goods bought do not comply with such condition or warranty, the seller is liable to compensate the buyer. Even in the absence of express stipulations by the seller, law presumes that products should meet certain conditions and warranties, breach of which has the same effect as the breach of express stipulations. The sale of goods Act ,1930,recognize condition and warranty separately although both the terms denote the promise made by the seller The difference lies in the nature of promise. If the promise is such that it affects the very basis of the contract, it is a condition .If the promise is such that it is collateral to the main purpose of the contract it is a warranty. The severity of the consequences of the breach depends upon the nature of the promise. This study tries to cover the following areas:

  1. What is a condition?

 2. When law presupposes a condition in a contract?

 3. Whether the parties can exclude an implied condition?

 4. What are the remedies available in the case of a breach of such conditions?

 

“CONDITION” defined.

 

According to section 12 (2) of the sale of goods Act, condition is a stipulation essential to the main purpose of the contract, the breach of which gives rise to a right to treat the contract as repudiated.

Thus a condition forms the very basis of the contract the breach of which causes a irreparable damage to the buyer, and he has a right to terminate the contract of sale entitling him to return the goods and get the refund of the price paid. It goes to the root of the contract. In Baldry v. Marshall (1925) 1 KB 26 ,A consulted B a car dealer and told him that he wanted to purcshe a car for touring purposes suggested that a Buggati  car will be fit for the purpose .Relying upon the statement , he bought the Buggati car .Later on the car turned to be unfit for the purpose of touring. The Court observed that the suitability of the car for touring purpose was ac condition because, it was so important that the non fulfillment defeated the very purpose of defeated the very purpose of purchasing the car. It was held that A was entitled to return the car and get back the price paid. In Wallis v. Pratt, 1910 2 K.B.1012, Lord Justice, Fletcher Moulton defined condition as ,”an obligation which goes so directly to the substance of the contract, or in other words, is so essential to its very nature ,that its non-performance will fairly be considered by the other party as a substantial failure to perform the contract at all.”

IMPLIED CONDITIONS.

 

Whether any express condition is made or not law presumes certain standards which are to be ensured by the seller before selling the any product .These presumptions as to nature, quality, and rightful ownership of the product are termed as implied conditions. The implied conditions in sale of goods are laid down in sections 14 to 17.

 

(1.)   CONDITION AS TO TITLE.

 

It is presumed in law that in the case of sale, the seller has the right to sell the Goods, and in the case of an agreement to sell the, the seller will have the right to sell the goods at the time of sale. In case a seller sells without the right to sell them, the buyer has the right to repudiate the contract. The term “right to sell” infers that the seller should have a valid title to the Goods. According to section 14 of the Act, In a contract of sale, unless the circumstances of the contract are such as to show a different attention, there is an implied condition on the part of the seller that­-(a).in the case of a sale, the seller has the right to sell.

        (b).in the case of an agreement to sell the seller will have a right to sell at the time of sale.

 

 In Rowland v. Divall, {1923}2K.B.500, B bought a second hand car from S a car dealer. After few months the car was taken away by the police as it was a stolen one. The court observed that it was a breach of condition as to title as S had no right to sell the car. It was held that B could recover full price from S. In Niblett v. Confectioners Material Co [.1921] 3 KB 387,B bought 3000 tins of condensed milk from S. Out of these 1000 tins were labeled as Nissly Brand.N, another manufacturer of the milk under the brand name of Nestle, claimed that this was an infringement of his trademark. Consequently B had to remove all the labels from the tins and had to sell them at loss. The court held that the seller had breached the implied condition that he had a right to sell.

When a person sells the goods by infringing the copyright or trademark of the others, he is considered as not having the right to sell the goods.

Where a seller having no title to sell the goods acquires a valid title to the goods after the sale, but before the buyer seeks to terminate the contract, the implied condition as to title is considered to be complied with.

B buys a stolen car from S without knowing this fact .By the time B came to know about it S had compensated the true owner and acquired a legal ownership of the car. Now B cannot terminate the contract on the ground of breach of implied condition.

In Butterworth V. Kingsway Motors 1954 1 W.L.R.1286.Where a seller having no title to the goods at the time of the sale, subsequently acquires a title, that title feeds the ,that title feeds the defective titles of both the original buyer and the subsequent buyer.

 

2. SALE BY DESCRIPTION.

 

“If you contract to sell peas, you cannot oblige a party to take beans.” This is the rule laid down in section 15, where there is a contract for the sale of goods by description, there is an implied condition that the goods shall correspond with the description. In Bowes v. Shand, 1877 App.Cas.455, it was held that if the description of the article tendered is different in any respect, it is not he article bargained for and the other party is not bound to take it. Goods are sold by description when they are described in the contract, as farm wheat, Australian Apple, Indian silk etc and the buyer contracts in reliance on that description. In Shepherd v. Kane (1821)5b&Ald.240, A ship was contracted to be sold as “copper fastened vessel” to be taken with all faults, without any allowance for any defects whatsoever. The ship turned to be partially Copper fastened .The court held that that the buyer was entitled to reject the goods.

When a descriptive word or phrase is used in a contract of sale to describe the product it creates an implied condition that the goods will correspond to the description. For example a sale of Seedless Grapes, signifies that the fruit will have no seeds. If it turns that the fruit is with seeds the buyer can reject the goods.

 

 

 

Sale of Goods by description may include the following situations,,

 

(1) Where the buyer has not seen the goods and relies on their description given by the seller.

 

In Varley v. Whipp,1900Q.B.513,W bought a reaping machine which he had never seen V the seller described “ to have been new the previous year and used to cut only 50 to 60 acres” .W found the machine to be extremely old .It was held that W could return the machine as it did not answer to the description.

 

(2).Where the buyer had seen the goods but relies not on what he had seen but on what was stated to him by the seller.

   InNicholson&Vennv.Smith Marriot,(1947)177 L.T.189,                                                                      in an auction sale of a set of Napkins and table clothes, these were described as dating from the seventh century; the buyer bought the set after seeing it. Subsequently it was found that the set was not of the seventh century but of the eighteenth century, it was held that he could reject the goods.

 

(3).Packing of goods may sometimes be part of the description.

In Moore &Co v. Landauver &Co, (1921 ),2K.B. 519, M sold to L 300 TINS OF Australian Apple packed in cases containing 30 tins.M tendered a substantial portion in case containing 24 tins. It was held that l could reject all the tins as the goods were not packed according to the description given in the contract as the method in which the fruit was packed was an essential part of the description.

 

Sale by description as well as by sample.

 

Section 15 further provides that if the sale is by sample as well as by description then it is not sufficient that it corresponds to the description but it should also correspond to the sample.

In Wallis v. Pratt, (1911­) A.C .394, in a contract for the sale of a quantity of the sale of seed described as “common English Sainfoin”, the seed supplied was of a different kind, though the defect was not discoverable except by sowing the defect also existed in the sample. Held the buyer was entitled to recover damages for the breach of contract.

 

3. CONDITION AS TO QUALITY OR FITNESS.

 

Ordinarily there is no implied condition that the goods supplied by the seller should be fit for the particular purpose of the buyer. The rule Caveat emptor applies instead It means that while buying it is the responsibility of the buyer to ensure that the goods corresponds to the particular purpose he want to meet. However in the following situation the responsibility of the fitness as to Goods falls on the seller.

A the buyer make known to the seller the particular purpose for which he requires goods.,

B The buyer and seller relies on the skill and judgment of the buyer.

C The sellers business is to supply such goods whether he is the manufacturer or producer or not.

Firstly the particular purpose for which goods are required must be known to the seller The purpose may be made known explicitly or by implication

If the goods can be used for many purposes, the buyer should make known the specific purpose to the seller; otherwise the condition as to fitness would not apply.

In Re Andrew Yule &Co, AIR 1932Calcutta879, a buyer ordered for Hessian cloth which is generally used for packing purposes the cloth was supplied accordingly, on receiving the cloth, the buyer found that the cloth was not suitable for packing food products as it had unusual smell He wanted to reject the cloth. The court observed that the buyer had no right to reject the cloth because although it was not fit for the specific purpose, it was fit for the purpose of packing otherwise for which it was commonly used. There was no breach of condition of fitness in this case. In this case had the buyer have informed to the seller that he needs the cloth for the packing of food products, situation would have been different.

It is not necessary that the purpose should be expressed in words only. If the goods could only be used for one purpose only, it is implied that the seller had knowledge about the purpose for which the buyer need the goods.

In Priest v Last (1903)2K.B.148,B went to S  a chemist and demanded a hot water bottle from him, S gave a bottle to him telling that it was meant for hot water, but not boiling water. after few days while using the bottle B’s wife got injured as the bottle burst out, it was found that the bottle was not fit to be used as hot water bottle. The court held that the buyer’s purpose was clear when he demanded a bottle for hot water bottle, thus the implied condition as to fitness is not met in this case.

Secondly, the buyer must have relied upon the skill and judgment of the seller. B asked S, he need a car for touring purpose, S supplies a car which is not fit for touring. A breach of condition has been committed here.

However mere mention of a particular trade name by the buyer doesnot mean that he has ordered for the product of that trade name only. He may still rely upon the skill and judgment of the seller.

 Thirdly, the seller should be a dealer of the kind of products transacted.

 

4.       CONDITION AS TO MERCHANTABILITY.

 

Section 16 (2)-Where goods are bought by description from a seller who deals in goods of that description whether he is not the producer or manufacturer or not, there is an implied condition that the goods shall be of merchantable quality

The above provision reveals that the condition of merchantability is applicable when,

a) The goods are sold by description

b) The seller deals with such goods

Thus when Mohan a blacksmith sells to Das his old car, no implied condition as to merchantability applies.

Merchantable means that the goods must be fit for the ordinary purpose for which such goods are used. For example, when shoes are sold, merchantability requires that the shoes have their heals attached well enough, that they will not break of under the normal use.

In Jones v. Just, 1868LR 3 QB 197, B&Co a firm of merchants contracted to buy from S some bales of Manila Hemp. This was to arrive from Singapore. The hemp arrived wetted with sea water. It was so damaged that it was not possible to sell it as Manila hemp in the market. The court held that the hemp was not of merchantable quality and it was entitled to be rejected.

But where the buyer examines the goods and the defects are such which can be revealed by ordinary examination, the condition of merchantability does not apply to the extent of such defects.

 Where the product has some latent defects which cannot be revealed by ordinary examination, the condition of merchantability would apply when even if the buyer has examined the goods.

In Thornet v. Beers, (1919) 1 KB 486, B wanted to purchase some glue. The glue was stored in the seller’s warehouse in barrels. B was given every facility to open the barrels and inspect them but B did not open the barrels. Liter on the glue was found to have defects which B could have noted if he had opened the Barrels. The court held that there is no breach of implied condition as to merchantability in this case and B was not entitled to any relief.

 

In Grant v. Australian Knitting Mills AIR1936PC34, B bought underwear from S, B examined it while purchasing .Later on it turned out to be harmful for his skin because of the presence of hidden sulphites in the underwear which could not have been revealed by ordinary examination. The court held that the implied condition of merchantability is applicable in this case.

Now what amounts to an examination is a question of fact in each case. In Thornet’s case the buyer had the product before him to examine but he chose not to examine it. Here as against the seller the examination is deemed to be made by the buyer.

 

Packing of goods is an equally important consideration in judging their merchantability.

 

In Morreli v Fitch &gibbons (1928)2K.B.636, M asked for a bottle of Stones Ginger Wine at S’s shop. Which was licensed for the sale of wines.while M was drawing the cork, the bottle broke and M was injured. Held the sale was by description and M was entitled to recover damages as the bottle was not of merchantable quality.

 

.5. CONDITION AS TO WHOLESOMENESS.

 

In the case of food products the condition of fitness or merchantability requires that the goods should be wholesome, that is it should be fit for consumption. In Chapronier v. Mason,(1905)21 TLR633, C brought a Bun from a baker’s shop .The bun contained a stone which broke of C’s teeth. The court held that the seller was liable to pay damages as he breached the condition of wholesomeness.

 

 

.6 .CONDITION IMPLIED BY CUSTOM.

 

An implied condition as to quality or fitness for a particular may be annexed by the usage of trade. Section 16(3), there are instances where the purpose of purchasing goods may be ascertained from the conduct of parties to the sale. Or from the nature of description of the thing purchased. For, example if a water bottle is purchased the purpose for which it is bought is implied in it; in that case the buyer need not tell the seller the purpose for which he buys it.

 

In Dr.Baretto v. T.R.Price, AIR 1939 Nag 19, A bought a set of false teeth from a dentist. The set did not fit into A’s mouth. Held A could reject the set as the purpose for which anybody would buy it was implicitly known to the seller, here the dentist.

In Priest v Last (1903)2K.B.148,P asked for a hot water bottle to S ,retail chemist ,he was supplied one which  burst after few days use and injured P’s wife. The court held that S was liable for the breach of implied condition because P had made known to the Chemist the purpose for which he buys the goods.

 

7. SALE BY SAMPLE.

 

A contract of sale by sample is a contract for sale by sample where there is a term express or implied in the contract, to that effect. (Section 17).In the case of contract of sale by sample, there is an implied condition – 1.That the bulk shall correspond to the sample in quality.

2. That the buyer shall have a reasonable opportunity of comparing the bulk with the sample.

3. That the goods shall be free from any defect, rendering them unmerchantable.The defect should not however be apparent on a reasonable examination of the sample.

In the case of patent defect there is no breach of implied condition as to merchantability.

In Mody v. Gregson, L.R.4E.X.49, in a contract for the sale of brandy, by sample brandy colored with a dye was supplied. The court held that the buyer was not bound to the contract even though the goods supplied were equal to the sample. As the defects were not apparent on the reasonable examination of the sample.

In E&SRuben Ltd v.Fair Bros, 1949 1K.B.254.A agreed to buy some rubber material from B. The sample of the rubber was shown to A .On receiving the rubber material, A found that the measurement of the rubber material was different from that of the sample. The court held that measurement of the rubber material was part of its quality. It was held that the goods did not correspond to the sample.

In Lorymer V. Smith, (1822) 1 B&C1., Two parcels of wheat were sold by sample. The buyer went to examine the wheat a week later. One parcel was shown to him but the seller refused to show the other parcel as it was not there. In this case the buyer was not given reasonable opportunity to test the bulk with the sample. The court held that the buyer was entitled to reject the contract of sale.

EXCLUSION OF IMPLIED CONDITIONS.

 

Section 62 of the sale of Goods Act, reads as-“Where any right, duty or liability would arise under a contract of sale by implication of law, it may be negatived or varied by express agreement or by the course dealing by the parties or by usage, if the usage is such as to bind both the parties to the contract”

The rule of law is that in a contract of sale the parties are free to make any bargain they feel like. The seller can exclude his liability by expressly providing in a contract of sale that he will not be liable for the breach of any condition. Similarly the buyer can waive any condition in a contract.            However, the seller cannot exclude his liability to perform the Fundamental aspects of the contract. As quoted by Lord Harbinger ,”if a seller contract to sell a horse, and expressly excluded all conditions and warranties, express or implied, could he escape liability ,if he delivered a pig? He would be met by the simple and sufficient answer that he had failed the one fundamental obligation.

S sold a horse to B with the stipulation, that there is no condition or warranty as to the fitness of the horse. The horse dies on the third day after the sale. In this case the seller is not liable to compensate the buyer.

Remedy for Breach of Condition.

 

On breach of a condition by the seller, the buyer’s remedy is that he can reject the transaction and return the goods to the seller On the breach of a warranty by the seller the buyer is provided with a remedy to claim damages suffered because of the goods bought under the transaction, but he cannot return the goods. When certain condition is not fulfilled, the buyer may not put an end to the contract by rejecting the goods and recover damages from the seller for breach of warranty. But once the buyer exercises his option to treat a breach of condition as a breach of warranty, he cannot afterwards insist on the fulfillment of the condition. This rule is laid down in Section 13 (1) of the Act.

Where the contract of sale is not severable and the buyer has accepted the goods or any part of the goods the breach of any condition by the seller can only be treated as a breach of a warranty, unless there is a term of the contract, express or implied to the contrary. This rule is laid down in Section 13(2) of the Sale Goods Act.

 


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