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Sale of Goods

Transfer of Property in Goods

The property in the goods is said, to be transferred from the seller to the buyer when the latter acquires the proprietary rights over the goods and the obligations linked thereto. 'Property in Goods' which means the ownership of goods, is different from ' possession of goods' which means the physical custody or control of the goods.

The transfer of property in the goods from the seller to the buyer is the essence of a contract of sale. Therefore the moment when the property in goods passes from the seller to the buyer is significant for following reasons:

  1. Ownership -- The moment the property in goods passes, the seller ceases to be their owner and the buyer acquires the ownership. The buyer can exercise the proprietary rights over the goods. For example, the buyer may sue the seller for non-delivery of the goods or when the seller has resold the goods, etc.
  2. Risk follows ownership -- The general rule is that the risk follows the ownership, irrespective of whether the delivery has been made or not. If the goods are damaged or destroyed, the loss shall be borne by the person who was the owner of the goods at the time of damage or destruction. Thus the risk of loss prima facie is in the person in whom the property is.
  3. Action Against Third parties -- When the goods are in any way damaged or destroyed by the action of third parties, it is only the owner of the goods who can take action against them.
  4. Suit for Price - The seller can sue the buyer for the price, unless otherwise agreed, only after the gods have become the property of the buyer.
  5. Insolvency - In the event of insolvency of either the seller or the buyer, the question whether the goods can be taken over by the Official Receiver or Assignee, will depend on whether the property in goods is with the party who has become insolvent.

Essentials for Transfer of Property -- The two essentials requirements for transfer of property in the goods are:

  1. Goods must be ascertained: Unless the goods are ascertained, they (or the property therein) cannot pass from the seller to the buyer. Thus, where there is a contract for the sale of unascertained goods, no property in the goods is transferred to the buyer unless and until the goods are ascertained
  2. Intention to PASS Property in Goods must be there: In a sale of specific or ascertained goods the property in them is transferred to the buyer at such time as the parties to the contract intend it to be regard shall be had to the terms of the contract, the conduct of the parties and the circumstances of the case.

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