In simple words Caveat Emptor means “let the buyer beware”. Emptor in Latin is the buyer and the verb cavere is a verb of caution: caveat emptor was the perfect principle for transactions involving not massive quantity of goods. In commercial transaction it is the duty of every buyer to be careful while buying goods of his or her requirements and also the seller is under an obligation to allow the buyer to examine the goods prior to entering into contract.
The principle of Caveat emptor is explained in Section 16 of the Sale of Goods Act 1930 which states that the buyer should inspect the goods to his best knowledge as there is no implied condition or warranty as to quality or fitness for any particular purpose of goods supplied.
When the rule of caveat emptor originated, it was quite rigid and there was no scope for any subsequent change in the rule. Concepts like ‘fitness of goods’ and ‘merchantability’, which could be used to shift the burden as to quality and fitness on the seller, were not encouraged The seller had absolutely no responsibility and hence there was a gradual shift towards the Doctrine of Caveat venditor which means “Let the seller beware”.
Whenever the seller is about to sell any goods to the buyer then the seller must be aware about the buyer in respect of to the usage of the goods the address of the buyer the name, occupation etc. In the case of Rekha Sahu v UCO Bank and others it was held that when the rule of caveat emptor (buyer beware) prevails, it is for the purchaser to either verify the title before purchasing the property or invite complication through litigation. However, now the rule of caveat emptor is replaced by caveat venditor (seller beware) and when the Bank/Financial Institution put the property on sale, they must show clear title to the said property.
This also put an obligation on the seller to make proper disclosures to the best of his knowledge. There must be no misrepresentations on the usability or purpose of the product sold. The defects, if any, should be disclosed. Therefore, the seller’s duty to make the buyer aware of all the defects in the goods being sold and all the information relating to the usage of the goods. This obligation of the seller should be irrespective of his own knowledge and skill, because what matters is not what he has but what he is expected to have.
In India, the new Consumer Protection Act was passed by the parliament in 2019 and it came into effect recently on 20th July 2020. The Act has replaced the 1986 Act which was obsolete with regards to the modern consumer problems. This Act is in favour of the Doctrine of Caveat Venditor and ensures the empowerment of consumers by means such as expanding the scope of grievances eligible for redressal- consumers can complain and be compensated not just for defective goods and deficient services but also for unfair contract terms, spurious goods as well as false and misleading advertises. The act also provides for filing of complaints electronically.
With the boom in e-commerce industry and capitalism, it is a given that there will be exploitation of consumers. This Act provides a security blanket to consumers, however a balance of both the doctrines should be maintained for a smooth flow of transactions. Consumers must research about the products being used, the companies which manufacture them, etc. At the same time it is the obligation of sellers and vendors to be as transparent as possible about the goods sold and services they provide.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.
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