Civil Litigation and Consumer Rights
Introduction to Buyer’s Rights and Remedies
Right to reject
A consumer has the right to reject goods which do not comply with any condition in the contract including any statutory implied conditions such as a description of product, satisfactory quality and fitness for the purpose and sale by sample. A non-consumer/purchaser of the goods has the same right to reject for breach of contract and breach of implied conditions.
However, a consumer does not have the right to reject for description, satisfactory quality or sale by sample if the breach committed by the seller is so minor that it would be unreasonable to reject the items.
In the scenario of the minor breach, it is up to the seller of the goods/services to prove that the rejection by consumer /purchaser/buyer is unreasonable.
Rejection of part of the goods
Where a contract of sale is not severable (cannot be terminated) and the buyer has accepted the goods or a part of the goods then the breach can only be treated as a breach of warranty unless it was expressly or implied mentioned in the contract that such breach will end the contract.
This means that if the buyer accepts the goods and the breach affects some of the goods then by rejecting the goods that have been breached or rejecting the goods which are defective or not according to the description or certain standard will not affect the right to reject the rest of goods.
John bought 10 tons of hay but upon the delivery, he discovered that 1 ton of hay was rotten. John can accept the good product (9 tons of hay) but can reject the 1 ton of hay that is faulty or he can reject the whole lot (10 tons)
Delivery of a wrong quantity
- If the seller delivers fewer goods to the buyer that he was contracted to, the buyer has the right to reject the goods, but if the buyer accepts the goods then he will have to pay the rate that was agreed in the contract.
Tiffany has bought 100 china plates to be delivered to her at £10 a plate, but when it gets delivered to her house she realises that there are only 80 plates. She can reject the goods and send them back to the buyer or she can accept them and pay the contract rate of £10 per plate for the 80 plates that she has received.
- If the seller delivers a quantity of goods that is higher than the quantity that was agreed in the contract, the buyer may accept the goods that were agreed in the contract and reject the rest, or he may reject the whole delivery.
Tiffany had bought 100 china plates but when the plates were delivered to her she realised that she has been delivered 110 plates. She can accept the 100 plates as per the contract and reject the 10 extra plates or she can reject the whole delivery.
- If the shortfall or excess delivery is so slight that it is unreasonable to reject then the buyer cannot reject the goods.
Ben ordered 10kg of flour but when it was delivered he received 10.1kg, the difference is so slight that it would be unreasonable to reject the goods.
- Unless otherwise agreed by both parties, the buyer of the goods is not bound to accept delivery of the goods in instalments.
- In a case where both parties have agreed for the goods to be delivered in instalments with payment to be made in instalment too, then depending upon the party which commits the breach, the circumstances of the breach will dictate whether the contract should be terminated or whether the aggrieved party should seek for compensation or damages only for such breach.
- Unless otherwise agreed, when the seller delivers the goods to the buyer, if the buyer requests time to examine the goods to see if they conform with the contract the seller has to give a reasonable opportunity to the buyer to inspect the goods, and in the case of a contract of sale by sample, to compare the delivery with the sample.
Acceptance of goods
- The buyer is deemed to have accepted the goods if he tells the seller that he has accepted the goods or when the goods have been delivered to him and he acts in a consistent manner or in line with the proprietary right.
- Where goods have been delivered to the buyer, and he has not previously examined them, he is deemed to not have accepted them until he has had a reasonable opportunity to examine the goods so that they conform with the contract.
- The buyer is also deemed to have accepted the goods if a reasonable amount of time has passed and the buyer keeps the goods without telling the seller that he has rejected them.
Repair or Replacement
- The buyer may not require the seller to repair or replace the goods if the remedy is either impossible, disproportionate to any other remedy available or it is disproportionate to the purchase price or rescission.
- Disproportionate to any other remedy includes taking into account what costs it imposes on the seller to repair and whether those costs in comparison to the price of the goods is worth spending instead of providing a replacement and also whether the remedy could be implemented without any significant inconvenience to the buyer.
- Any questions as to what is a reasonable time or significant inconvenience are to be determined by looking at the nature of the goods and the purpose for which the goods were bought.
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While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information provided in this article, it does not constitute legal advice and cannot be relied upon as such. Each legal case and issue may have unique facts and circumstances, as a result legallex does not accept any responsibility for liabilities arising as a result of reliance upon the information provided. For further help and guidance, you can always rely on and seek advice from our experienced lawyers.