Caveat Emptor in UK Law

Leading Cases
  • Anns v Merton London Borough Council
    • House of Lords
    • 12 May 1977

    But leaving aside such cases as arise between contracting parties, when the terms of the contract have to be considered (see Voli v. Inglewood Shire Council 110 C.L.R. 74, 85, per Windeyer J.), I am unable to understand why this principle or proposition should prevent recovery in a suitable case by a person, who has subsequently acquired the house, upon the principle of Donoghue v. Stevenson: the same rules should apply to all careless acts of a builder: whether he happens also to own the land or not.

    In my opinion they may also include damage to the dwelling-house itself; for the whole purpose of the byelaws in requiring foundations to be of certain standard is to prevent damage arising from weakness of the foundations which is certain to endanger the health or safety of occupants.

  • Bell v Lever Bros Ltd
    • House of Lords
    • 15 Dec 1931

    There are certain contracts expressed by the law to be contracts of the utmost good faith where material facts must be disclosed; if not the contract is voidable. Apart from special fiduciary relationships contracts for partnership and contracts of insurance are the leading instances. In such cases the duty does not arise out of contract; the duty of a person proposing an insurance arises before a contract is made; so of an intending partner.

  • Ing Bank NV v Ros Roca SA
    • Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
    • 31 Mar 2011

    Outside the insurance context, there is no obligation in general to bring difficulties and defects to the attention of a contract partner or prospective contract partner. Caveat emptor reflects a basic facet of English commercial law (the growth of consumer law has been moving in a different direction). In such circumstances, silence is golden, for where there is no obligation to speak, silence gives no hostages to fortune.

  • Harlingdon and Leinster Enterprises Ltd v Christopher Hull Fine Art Ltd
    • Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
    • 15 Dec 1989

    All this is a matter of common knowledge amongst dealers in the art market and, I would expect, amongst all but the most inexperienced or naive of collectors. It means that almost any attribution to a recognised artist, especially of a picture whose provenance is unknown, may be arguable.

    Understandably enough, the judge was not satisfied on Mr. Joll's evidence that there was any usage or custom in the London art market which would exclude the application of the material provisions of the 1979 Act. But he did, I think, accept it as showing that many dealers habitually deal with each other on the principle caveat emptor.

  • William Sindall Plc v Cambridgeshire County Council
    • Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
    • 21 May 1993

    When the learned judge speaks of the contract allocating risk "by express or implied condition precedent or otherwise" I think he includes rules of general law applicable to the contract and which, for example, provide that, in the absence of express warranty the law is caveat emptor.

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