Misrepresentation of goods being sold

By 2nd December 2020Corporate & Commercial
Misrepresentation of goods being sold

A misrepresentation is where someone (for example, a Seller) makes a statement about something and does not bind him or herself to that statement. There are however instances where the law imposes a responsibility on someone to make a warranty which is not discussed here. A warranty is more serious than a representation – whoever makes a warranty generally binds him or herself to the contract and its consequences.


A puff is when, for example, a Seller “hypes” up his good(s) and slightly embellishes the good’s value – a common Seller’s tactic. A Buyer is not understood to take such praise overly seriously. Puffs do not amount to misrepresentation. However, the problem comes in when the lines get blurred: when there are certain traces of facts entwined in the representation (Milne v Harilal 1961) where liability may ensue.


According to Phame v Paizes 1973, a dictum et promissum (singular) is a “material statement made by the Seller to the Buyer during negotiations, bearing on the quality of the res vendita (the thing being sold) and going beyond mere praise and commendation.” Sellers need to be careful when making such representations because if it turns out that such representation is false, the Buyer may have remedies available to him or her – the Buyer shall be able to cancel the contract because of the defects of the thing being sold (through the actio redhibitoria) or be able to sue for a reduction in the original purchase price of the thing being sold (through the actio quanti minoris).


Opinions which end up being false are generally not considered to be actionable as they do not amount to misrepresentations. However, the situation is not always clear. For example, there may be a liability in the event that someone holds a certain opinion in his or her mind but expresses or acts on some different belief or intention. Statements of law are not generally actionable as they fall more in the “opinion” category than the “fact” category.


Should you be a victim of a Seller’s misrepresentation of goods which was sold to you, please do not hesitate to contact us at BBP Law Inc, where we shall strive to best assist you in resolving any misrepresented issues surrounding the sale of these goods.



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