Caveat Emptor: A Judicial Evolution
Volume II – Issue I, 2020
This paper is going to explore the current application of Caveat Emptor in various contractual obligations in the present scenario through judgements.
The term Caveat Emptor is a part of a longer statement: Caveat emptor, quiaignorare non debuit quod jus alienum emit which means let a purchaser beware, for he ought not to be ignorant of the nature of the property which he is buying from another party.It means a buyer is bound by actual as well as constructive knowledge of any fault in the thing purchased, which is evident, or which might have been known by proper diligence. However, the increase in the density of modern commerce has placed the buyer at a disadvantage with the rule of Caveat Emptor. There has been a decline in the concept of Caveat Emptor as the trend is moving from consumer oriented to consumer sovereignty. The first traceable decision in common law, which gave significance to the trust placed by the buyer on the seller’s skill and judgment and which marked as a blow to Caveat Emptor was Priest v. Last (1819). In the case the buyer purchased a hot water bottle from the seller, a retail chemist. The supplied bottle burst after a few days use and injured the buyer’s wife. The court held that seller was liable for the breach of implied condition because buyer had made known to the Chemist the purpose for which he was in need of the bottle. However this was just the beginning of what could be termed as the thinning process of the rule of Caveat Emptor. This paper is going to explore the current application of Caveat Emptor in various contractual obligations in the present scenario.
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