Whenever you sell goods to a customer you have certain responsibilities.
You must make sure the goods 'conform to contract'. This means that they must be as you describe them. For instance, a car must be the exact model that you say it is, of the correct engine size and with the same number of previous owners as you tell the customer it has had.
By law, all descriptions - whether verbal, written, implied or given in an illustration - must be accurate and not misleading. If you describe goods inaccurately, the customer may have a claim against you for breach of contract.
Quality of goods and services
The goods or services must also be of satisfactory quality. Quality is a general term, which covers a number of matters including:
- fitness for all the purposes for which goods of that kind are usually supplied
- appearance and finish
- freedom from minor defects
You could also be held liable if the use of products or services you supply causes any damage, injury or death. However, most of the responsibility lies with the manufacturers and producers. See product liability.
Fit for purpose goods and services
You must also ensure the goods or services are 'fit for purpose'. This means they should be capable of doing what they are intended to do. For example, in the case of a pen it should be able to write. Also, if a customer has made clear they require the pen for a specific purpose - for instance, calligraphy - and you have confirmed that it will be suitable, then it must be fit for that purpose.
Not only are these your legal responsibilities - they make sound business sense if you want to attract and retain customers.
Know your legal responsibilities
- Do you need a licence?
- Get the right business insurance
- Comply with the law when providing goods and services
- Know your customers' rights
- Distance and online selling rules
- Understand pricing legislation
- Buying goods from outside NI
- Selling goods outside NI
- GDPR compliance checklist
- Pay your business rates
- Understand staff contracts and your responsibilities
- Taking on contractors and subcontractors
- What you need to do about health and safety
- Know your legal obligations on pensions
Understand tax and VAT
Sell and market your products or services