Sale of goods act – Your rights if have bought or sold goods

Posted by Jonny on Oct 22, 2015 in Latest News

Businesses are free to enter into contracts on whatever terms they wish. However, if a contract relates to the sale of goods e.g. a lorry, then it will almost certainly be subject to implied statutory provisions (the protection offer is lesser than if the contract were with a consumer).

The principal piece of legislation is the Sale of Goods Act 1979 and it offers quite some protection if you find yourself unhappy, out-of-pocket, or both.

The purpose of the legislation is to imply terms into any and all contracts for the sale of goods. These are as follows:

Title – The general rule is that a seller must have good title to any good(s) that he (or she) sells. Title is simply a way of indicating ‘ownership’. If someone does not have good title to some goods then he almost certainly has no right to sell it. For example, a seller will not have the right to sell stolen goods and the buyer will not be able to obtain ‘good title’. The likely outcome of this all too familiar situation is that the buyer would likely have to return the goods. This is certainly the case if you have bought a stolen vehicle or plant or machinery.

It is a similar situation where a seller is trying to sell a vehicle (or plant) that is under a hire purchase (HP) contract. The HP contract will usually not allow the seller to sell the vehicle while finance is still outstanding because it is the finance company that actually owns the vehicle i.e. they have title to the vehicle.

It is not a defence to say that a seller did not know that the goods were stolen and a full refund would still have to be paid.

Description – Something offered for sale must conform to the description given to it. For example, a Scania R320 advertised as being a 2007 model cannot be part of 2003 model welded to a 2007 model. Similarly a R500 cannot be a re-badged R320. In essence, if a buyer relies on any description given by the seller, the goods must correspond with the description. It is no defence to rely on information provided in the registration documents.

Quality – Goods must be of a satisfactory quality. This only applicable to sellers who are acting in the course of a business but does apply to new and used goods. In order to be seen as of satisfactory quality, regard must be had for:

• fitness for all the purposes for which goods of the kind in question are commonly supplied;
• appearance and finish;
• freedom from minor defects;
• safety; and
• durability.

These points will be weighed against any deviation from any description given, price paid and all other relevant considerations.

There is no remedy if a buyer finds fair wear and tear, misuse or accidental damages, or change their mind and decide against keeping the goods.

If defects or special uses or requirements are specifically brought to the buyer’s attention, or where a reasonable inspection would have discovered any issues or defects, then a buyer cannot rely on this provision. In this case, someone who has not been able to inspect their new (used) Iveco Eurostar could be in a better position than someone who did inspect it, albeit still in possession of a potentially defective vehicle.

Fitness for purpose – Similarly to the above, if the buyer makes it known, either expressly (by writing or conversation) or impliedly, prior to purchase any specific purpose for which the goods are required, then the gods will have to be specifically fit for that purpose. For example, if a specialist haulier of powders purchases a tractor unit that is required to have facility for a tipper and a blower and expressly makes this known to the seller then the vehicle must conform. In this case, the buyer might impliedly make it known to the seller perhaps by showing the seller their other vehicles or because it is rather obvious.


The usual options are to reject the goods and claim a full refund or, if this is not desirable or possible, then to claim damages based on the cost of repair or the difference in value (as it is vs how it should have been). However, it is important that any faults are not accepted by the buyer either expressly or impliedly e.g. by continued use without complaint.

Dyne Solicitors have a great track record in recovering considerable damages for our clients who were not happy with the plant or vehicles they were sold. Our specialist litigation department and deep transport knowledge put you in safe and capable hands from the outset. Call us or request a call back to discuss your issue further.

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