Suppliers of Goods and the Act

Fitness for Particular Purpose
This can be a purpose that either:

The customer tells you about or implies - e.g. "I want a heater to heat my hall and the two bedrooms". The heater must be of sufficient strength to heat a number of rooms, or you have stated the goods will be fit for.   Such statements are often made in advertising, in speaking to the customer, on signs, on labels or on packaging - e.g. a display sign says "Work socks". The socks should be hard wearing and suitable for use by a labourer wearing boots.  

Fitness for particular purpose is an additional guarantee to fit for "normal" purpose (which falls under the guarantee of acceptable quality). e.g. Trevor wants a car that will tow his jetboat. Trevor knows that a car's normal purpose is to be used as transportation but the car he buys must not only be fit for that use but also able to tow the boat.   A car that has only a 1600cc engine won't do for Trevor!  

The guarantee that the goods will be fit for a particular purpose applies even when the purpose is an unusual one. e.g. Terry wants to paint his car himself. He goes to the local hardware store and asks for paint suitable for his car.   If they sell him the paint then it must be fit for the purpose he has stated. If they have no paint suitable for cars they should say so.

Should I Know if the Goods will do the Job the Customer Wants?

  • Everyone working in the shop should know about the normal uses for the goods they are selling.
    e.g. if you sell paint you should know what each type and brand is suitable for.

  • You need to be sure any claims you make for the goods are true.
    e.g. a shop assistant tells a customer that the anti-mould product they are looking at will definitely stop mould growing on a bathroom ceiling. The customer will have a claim if it doesn't.

  • In some situations you cannot be expected to know if the goods will meet the customer's purpose. In these cases the customer can't claim under the fitness for particular purpose guarantee. e.g. Alan asks for a pair of shoes that won't hurt his bunion. The salesperson can suggest which shoes are most likely to be suitable but only Alan can judge how comfortable the shoes are for him.

Goods must Match any Description
Many goods are sold with a description of some sort - e.g.100% cotton, free-range eggs, recycled paper, toughened steel blade. As a retailer you are liable for any description given with the goods including the descriptions on packaging and labels.

Goods must Comply with a Sample
If you show a customer a sample or a demonstration model then the goods the customer buys must be the same as the sample. e.g. Julie looks at a food processor on display in a shop and takes a box off the stack to the counter. When she gets home she finds it is a different model to the one on display.

Goods can be Legally Sold
You must guarantee that you have the right to sell the goods and that there are no undisclosed security interests. You also guarantee that the goods will not be repossessed by you or anyone else. If you supply software to consumers, you must have the legal right to sell that software, and you must sell it in a way that gives the consumer the right to use the software.

  There are two exceptions:

  1. The goods are sold under a Hire Purchase agreement.

  2. A security or a term of the sales agreement allows for repossession and the customer has been told that the goods can be repossessed and has acknowledged this in writing:

    • the fact that the goods can be repossessed was explained in a way that would make it clear to a reasonable person
    • the customer has been given a copy of the repossession clause.

An example of a security held over the goods is a Romalpa clause. If you include Romalpa clauses in your sale agreements you must tell the customer about the clause, get a written acknowledgment from them and give them a written copy of the agreement, or part relating to the Romalpa clause.