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The death of 'sold as seen'?

26 November 2015

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 (CRA) has consolidated the majority of consumer law and now is the ideal time for businesses to review their consumer facing terms and conditions of sale.  Second hand stores and used car dealers have often used the maxim 'sold as seen', but to what extent does this apply under the CRA?

Under the CRA even second-hand products must be of satisfactory quality, taking into account price, age and dealer information. More allowance will be made for wear and tear, minor defects, and any defects brought to the consumer’s attention before the contract is made (or which the consumer should have discovered on examination) but it is not the case that just because the goods are ‘sold as seen’ that there is no recourse to the vendor.

Any defects which are not reasonably apparent on inspection by a consumer (who could not be expected to find, say, engine faults) and/or are not brought to the consumer’s attention may render the car of unsatisfactory quality, unless such defects would be expected based on the car’s price and description. All of which means that the CRA spells the end of the effectiveness of the phrase – perhaps 'sold as seen' should not be seen again.

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