caveat emptor

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Caveat Emptor

[Latin, Let the buyer beware.] A warning that notifies a buyer that the goods he or she is buying are "as is," or subject to all defects.

When a sale is subject to this warning the purchaser assumes the risk that the product might be either defective or unsuitable to his or her needs.This rule is not designed to shield sellers who engage in Fraud or bad faith dealing by making false or misleading representations about the quality or condition of a particular product. It merely summarizes the concept that a purchaser must examine, judge, and test a product considered for purchase himself or herself.

The modern trend in laws protecting consumers, however, has minimized the importance of this rule. Although the buyer is still required to make a reasonable inspection of goods upon purchase, increased responsibilities have been placed upon the seller, and the doctrine of caveat venditor (Latin for "let the seller beware") has become more prevalent. Generally, there is a legal presumption that a seller makes certain warranties unless the buyer and the seller agree otherwise. One such Warranty is the Implied Warranty of merchantability. If a person buys soap, for example, there is an implied warranty that it will clean; if a person buys skis, there is an implied warranty that they will be safe to use on the slopes.

A seller who is in the business of regularly selling a particular type of goods has still greater responsibilities in dealing with an average customer. A person purchasing antiques from an antique dealer, or jewelry from a jeweler, is justified in his or her reliance on the expertise of the seller.

If both the buyer and the seller are negotiating from equal bargaining positions, however, the doctrine of caveat emptor would apply.

Cross-references

Consumer Protection; Sales Law.

caveat emptor

(kah-vee-ott emptor) Latin for "let the buyer beware." The basic premise that the buyer buys at his/her own risk and therefore should examine and test a product himself/herself for obvious defects and imperfections. Caveat emptor still applies even if the purchase is "as is" or when a defect is obvious upon reasonable inspection before purchase. Since implied warranties (assumed quality of goods) and consumer protections have come upon the legal landscape, the seller is held to a higher standard of disclosure than "buyer beware" and has responsibility for defects which could not be noted by casual inspection (particularly since modern devices cannot be tested except by use, and so many products are pre-packaged). (See: consumer protection laws)

caveat emptor

noun at one's own risk, purchase without a guaranty, purchase without a warranty, purrhased at one's risk, unassured purchase, unendorsed purchase, unguaranteed purchase, unwarranted purchase

caveat emptor

‘let the buyer beware’, no longer an accurate statement of the law unless very fully qualified. In relation to immoveable or heritable property, it is still a guiding general principle, the terms of the contract between the parties tending to resolve many common problems. In relation to the sale of moveable corporeal property or goods, there are implied terms that in some cases cannot be excluded even by the agreement of the parties and others that may be excluded only if it is fair and reasonable to do so. See e.g. QUALITY.

CAVEAT EMPTOR. Let the purchaser take heed; that is, let him see to it, that the title he is buying is good. This is a rule of the common law, applicable to the sale and purchase of lands and other real estate. If the purchaser pay the consideration money, he cannot, as a general rule, recover it back after the deed has been executed; except in cases of fraud, or by force of some covenant in the deed which has been broken. The purchaser,if he fears a defect of title, has it in his power to protect himself by proper covenants, and if he fails to do so, the law provides for him no remedy. Cro. Jac. 197; 1 Salk. 211 Doug. 630, 654; 1 Serg. & R. 52, 53, 445. This rule is discussed with ability in Rawle on Covenants for Title, p. 458, et seq. c. 13, and the leading authorities collected. See also 2 Kent, Com. Lect. 39, p. 478; 2 Bl. Com. 451; 1 Stor, Eq. Sec. 212 6 Ves. 678; 10 Ves. 505; 3 Cranch, 270; 2 Day, R. 128; Sugd. Vend. 221 1 Bouv. Inst. n. 954-5.
     2. This rule has been severely assailed, as being the instrument of falsehood and fraud; but it is too well established to be disregarded. Coop., Just. 611, n. See 8 Watts, 308, 309.

Caveat emptor. Let the purchaser beware.