Incredibly, the Sale of Goods Act 1893 is still in force in Nigeria. This statute which became operational in Nigeria under the statutes of general application doctrine by which legislations of general application in force in the United Kingdom before the 1st of January, 1900 became applicable in Nigeria has survived till date. In fact, it has gained sufficient grounds. And there seems to be no letting go just yet.
[sociallocker]In the curriculum for legal education in Nigeria, Commercial Law is a compulsory law course that every law student must not only take, but pass also. The course is made up of three broad laws. One of them is the Sale of Goods Law. The principal statute regulating sale of goods in Nigeria, apart from the general principles of the Law of Contract, is the Sale of Goods Act 1893. A statute that is 120 years old this year, 2013!
It is a testimony to the visionary clarity of parliamentarians of the days of yore that a legislation that is 120 years old is still very relevant, both in substance and principles, till this day. Though there are some challenges with some of its provisions vis-à-vis contemporary developments in information technology, substantially the principles of the statute are still relevant today.
Nevertheless, it is about time that the Sale of Goods Act 1893 is made to release its firm grip on Nigeria’s legal terrain. The statute is a relic of the colonial past of Nigeria. It is amazing that the statute which has ceased to be in force for a very long time in the United Kingdom where it was enacted is still very much in force in Nigeria. It would amount to saying the obvious to say that the Sale of Goods Act 1893 is overdue for repeal and replacement in Nigeria. Several reasons can be adduced for such conclusion. In the first place, its repeal will provide an opportunity for the development of a contemporary legislation on that very important area of human endeavour. Secondly, it will enable the new statute to provide for modern means of communication and commerce. In these days of growing e-commerce and long distance commercial engagements, the Sale of Goods Act 1893 is not suited for regulating such modern commercial practices. Thirdly, it is about time we do things for ourselves, including making laws that would take our circumstances into consideration.
Surely, the Nigerian Law Reform Commission and the National Assembly will do well to look into this legislation with a view to giving us an autochthonous legislation to regulate sales transactions. Such a home-grown legislation is clearly needed. It is about time that the Sale of Goods Act 1893 takes a well-deserved vacation off the shores of Nigeria!
Do you agree that the Sale of Goods Act 1893 should be repealed and replaced in Nigeria? Do you have suggestions on likely issues for reform in this area of law? Kindly share your views using the comment section of this post below. If you are already a registered user, you will be required to log in to comment on this post; otherwise, you will have to register before posting your comment. Registration is simple and FREE.