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Doctrine of caveat emptor |Law Notes


Caveat Emptor is comes in a Latin phrase with the aim of the meaning, which is “let the buyer beware”. Caveat Emptor is a fundamental principle of the sale of goods act. We can also say this “warning Buyer”, in short; ‘let the buyer beware’.

The purchaser or buyer has to check and examine the goods to discover out if they will go well with his purpose. In supplementary words, it is not the duty of the seller’s to point out defects of his own goods. Emptor means that “buyer”, Caveat means that “beware”. It is a all-purpose rule of law that a buyer assumes the risk of his and her acquires.

The purpose of the rule is to place a duty of to be concerned on the buyer in selecting an item and putting onwards suitable inquisition ahead of completing the sale. In this technique, a seller is also protected from liability for buyer’s guilt.

Example- P buys a used mobile in a perfect condition, but it instantly breaks down.

In this act, buyer defines in the section 2(1), a buyer is a person who buys or has agreed to buy goods. And also the section 2(13) of this act, defines seller, is a person who sells or has arranged to sell goods. For a sales contract to come into continuation, these two stipulations symbolize the two parties of a sales contract. At this time section 16 defines the caveat emptor and caveat emptor has also exceptions, which we discuss in the below.

Caveat Emptor:-

According to Section 16 of the Sale of Goods Act, the explanation of caveat emptor is as “there is no obscured warranty or circumstance as to the suitability or quality of any particular purpose of goods supplied under such a contract of sale“. It is predictable from the buyer to be aware and on the alert in a contract of sale.

In the case of Goddard vs hobbs 1878, in which the pigs were sold “matter to all faults”, and these pigs, being contaminated, caused typhoid to other healthy pigs of the buyer, it was held that the seller was not bound to compose identified that the pigs were ill. This rule of the law is ‘Caveat Emptor’ and the last buyer is found liable.

In the other important case ,Wall vs. Russel, the court held that the rule of Caveat emptor implies that “the buyer must take care, be aware”. It applies to the buy of those things ahead which buyer can implement his individual skill and judgment, like notebook, cloths etc 

Example: If P is the seller makes the goods obtainable in the marketplace and it is the accountability of the Q who is buyer to check them well by purchasing the goods. If the Q afterward discovers a fault in the goods that could have been detected earlier by him, he cannot take legal action against the P for inferior quality.

Exception to caveat emptor:-

In the case of misrepresentation of the seller:-

When sellers create a falsification or misrepresentation and the buyer relies on that representation. In this matter the responsibility is not situate just on the buyer.

Section 15:- the sales by description:-

According to this section, when the goods are sold by description and the goods supplied by the seller do not keep up a correspondence to the description.

In the case of Andrews vs. Singer and co.Ltd, 1934, in this a car is sold like a latest new singer car. Then the buyer fined it to be a used one and may well reject the car or retain the car and claim for his damages.

Purchase of sample among description:- 

It is says that where goods are purchased by samples with by description and immensity of goods do not correspond in the midst of the description, and then the buyer is unrestricted to reject the goods.

In the other vital case, Nichol v. Godts, 1854, in this the foreign refined rape oil was sold warranted to be equivalent to sample. The sample of this was in reality not the sample of foreign refined rape oil but it’s a combination of hemp oil, and then the court held that the buyer could reject the oil even if the bulk corresponded with the sample.

Section 17:- Sale by the sample.

Section 17 of this act says that in a sale of goods by sample, the rule of caveat emptor does not be valid if the bulk does not correspond with the sample, or if the buyer is not specified an chance to compare bulk with the facsimile.

Examples: – Definite watch was sold by sample for an army group, the watch was found to contain paper not discoverable by ordinary inspection after that the buyer was entitled to the refund of rate plus damages.

Section 16(1):- fitness for purpose

Section 16(1) in this act says that if the buyer informs the seller in relation to his reason behind purchasing the goods moreover the seller does not sell the goods according to that intentionally; it relieves the buyer as of the accountability. In this case, it develops into the duty of the seller to supply the right goods to the buyer.

Example: P informs Q, who is a cloths shopkeeper that she wishes to purchase branded western dress for party. If Q still sells her unbranded western dress, and take the same rate as to brand then Q can be held responsible. 

In the case of Sital kumar saini vs. Satvir singh, The State Commission affirmed that an implied warranty was guaranteed under section 16 of the Sale of Goods Act, 1930 and also allowed it to be unnecessary. 

Section 16(2):- merchantable quality

According to this act, the seller must make available goods of merchantable quality to the buyer. This means that the goods must be well for resale in the marketplace and must get ahead of the market standards. When the buyers buy the goods from a seller based on a description and the seller deals in the goods of to description, after that the goods must be of merchantable value or significance. If the goods are not of merchantable quality, in that case the seller can be held liable for the same.

Example: – P bought yarn from Q and found it to be damaged by white Ants. It was held that the merchantability was broken down.

Section 16(3):- Trade Usage

According to this act the rule of Caveat Emptor does not relate if the seller deviates from notifying the buyer on the subject of the quality or the fitness of goods or products. There is an implied circumstance or guarantee on the condition of the goods. 

In the case of Peter darlington partners limited vs. Ghoso co. Ltd, a contract for the sale of canary seeds was subjected to the custom of trade and held that if there subsist some impurities in the seeds the buyer will get a repayment on the cost but he would not disallow the goods. Though, a custom which is difficult to deal with will not have an effect on the parties’ contract. 

Sale of Goods Under the Trade Name 

In this if the purchaser purchases a branded product or a product sold under a trade name, then he is guaranteed of the superiority that is connected with that brand name. The seller in this case cannot be held accountable. In this case, the buyer is not relying on the skill or judgment of the seller other than on the implied quality ordinary that the brand offers. 

Fraudulent Representation by the Seller

In this ground, if the seller provides fraudulent information in relation to the goods or conceals some significant information in relation to them, then the buyer is not responsible. 


Doctrine of caveat emptor comes under the section 16 of the chapter II of the sale of goods act, 1930. Through this act, the seller and buyer know their responsibilities and duty. It is necessary that the buyer should be more concern or more aware. As we know that the Caveat Emptor is a most vital rule of the sale of goods act and it plays important role in the every contract between seller and buyer. This law is significant for the betterment of market place.