scots law
basic advice from
govan law centre

sale of goods act


  • Consumers’ benefit from various protections under the Sale of Goods Act 1979. This Act was updated and amended by the Sale and Supply of Goods Act 1994. To benefit you must have entered into a ‘contract of sale. Section 2(1) of the 1979 Act defines this as: ‘a contract by which the seller transfers or agrees to transfer the property in goods to the buyer for a money consideration, called the price’.

  • Section 14 of the 1979 Act may impose various ‘implied terms’ into your contract of sale. Two important statutory implied terms relate to ‘satisfactory quality’ and goods being ‘reasonably fit for any particular purpose for which they were bought’.

  • Section 1 of the Sale and Supply of Goods Act 1994 substantially updated section 14 of the 1979 Act. ‘Satisfactory quality’ is now defined by section 14(2A) - ‘goods are of satisfactory quality if they meet the standard that a reasonable person would regard as satisfactory, taking account of any description of the goods, the price (if relevant) and all the other relevant circumstances’.

  • Satisfactory quality’ is further defined by section 14(2B) of the 1979 Act, so that the quality of goods ‘includes their state and condition and the following (among others) are in appropriate cases aspects of the quality of goods –

(a)  fitness for all purposes for which goods of the kind in question are commonly supplied,

(b) appearance and finish,

(c)   freedom from minor defects,

(d)  safety, and

(e)   durability’.

  • If you buy goods described as ‘second hand’ it would not be reasonable in terms of section 14(2A) to expect the quality of new goods.

  • Goods also have to be ‘fit for their purpose’. If you make your particular purpose for the goods known to a seller, this may create an implied term of contract – in other words there may be a legal implication that the goods are ‘reasonably fit for that purpose’ (even if that purpose is not the purpose for which the goods are commonly supplied – see section 14(3) of the 1979 Act).

  • If good are not of a ‘satisfactory quality or ‘reasonably fit for their purpose the law provides you with remedies. Legal remedies or options include – the right to reject the goods (return them and ask for a refund – section 15B, 1979 Act), and/or seek damages and treat the contract as repudiated (ended).

  • It is important that you intimate your intention to reject goods as soon as possible – if in doubt you should obtain formal legal advice. You can obtain legal assistance and representation from a local law centre, or local firm of solicitors. Your local trading standards department may be able to help you with more consumer rights information.