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Title: Private sale - caveat emptor - buyer beware

Date: 24 August 2011

I've just sold a bike - private sale - and although the bike was in perfect working order when delivered and the purchaser tested it, he now tells me that the engine has a major fault that I could not have known about as I rode the bike to him as part of the delivery. He notified me within 24 hours of the fault and wants a refund. Where do I stand as the seller?

The basic rule in English and Welsh Law is caveat emptor – let the buyer beware. It is the purchaser’s job to exercise due diligence and ensure that he is getting what he is paying for. When the seller is selling in the course of business, the harshness of this rule is tempered by the Sale of Goods Act 1979, which implies into contract various terms to ensure that the goods are of satisfactory quality. However, you were not selling in the course of business. Assuming that you did not make false statements the purchaser has no recourse against you. A seller is not allowed to tell lies. Providing you did not give false assurances in relation to the bike you are not guilty of fraudulent misrepresentation and as such caveat emptor applies – you are under no legal obligation to provide a refund.

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