Have developments to the law of misrepresentation and wider public policy made a mockery of the age-old concept of caveat emptor in contract law?

By Chris Heale

This project is submitted in assessment in the first year Law in Action 1 module

When Contract Law developed in the nineteenth century, influenced by laissez-faire economics, underpinning it was the doctrine of ‘caveat emptor’ – meaning “let the buyer beware”. It has always been possible to rely on expressly drafted warranties, for example promising to repair or replace a faulty item if necessary within a specified period of time, but without these, purchasers bore the risk and could not claim compensation for defective purchases. However, what qualifies as a term has evolved – a representation may become a term if it appears “intended” to be one. Conflation of contractual terms with pre-contractual representations and implying terms into a contract through statute signify a move towards enhanced consumer rights with wider recourse for buyers through breach of contract.

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