Sale of Goods Act Reform: Other considerations

In the last few weeks, we have discussed several issues relating to the Sale of Goods Act 1893 that should be reformed [see here, here, here, here and here]. In this concluding article relating to the reform of the sale of goods legislation in Nigeria, we shall discuss other more general issues that should be taken into consideration also in any attempt to reform the sale of goods legislation in Nigeria.

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Should there be a brand new statute or a mere amendment?

One issue that would agitate the minds of those who would be involved in the reform of the Sale of Goods Act 1893 in Nigeria would be the nature of the reform of the statute. The two ready options are either to have a completely new statute to deal with the subject matter or to merely amend the extant Sale of Goods Act 1893. The first option is preferable for several reasons. In the first place, it provides an opportunity to make a fresh, clean start as far as the subject matter is concerned. Secondly, it provides an opportunity to produce a truly autochthonous legislation in respect of sale of goods in Nigeria. Thirdly, the new statute would be freed of some of those provisions of the 1893 legislation that are of no relevance to Nigeria.

Consequently, the enactment of a brand new statute, as opposed to amending the existing statute, is the preferred approach in effecting the Sale of Goods Act reform.

Reconciliation with States’ Statutes

There would also be the need to reconcile the provisions of the new Sale of Goods legislation with some statutes made by some States in respect of such matter. It is conceded that most of these States’ legislations are not as active as the Sale of Goods Act 1893 in dealing with the subject matter. Nevertheless, that does not seem to be a convincing excuse for allowing inconsistencies between the legislations.

Increased protection for consumer buyer

In other jurisdictions where the Sale of Goods Act 1893 has been amended, there is a distinction readily made in situations where the buyer is a consumer as opposed to when the buyer is non-consumer. We considered one of such situations when we were discussing the issue of rejection of goods on account of delivery of wrong quantity [see here]. This matter will become even more relevant when reforms are being considered in such areas as implied terms in respect of sale of goods and the issue of the extent of the application of exclusion clauses in sale of goods contracts. It may be appropriate to make similar categorisation when reforming the statute because the circumstances of the consumer buyer are different from those of the non-consumer buyer.

Transactions between distant parties

The issue of sale of goods contract between distant parties deserves some greater attention. In this age of information and communication technology and increasing e-commerce presence (if not dominance), the new sale of goods legislation should be sufficiently robust to address this issue in view of the fact that such distant trading activities will continue to grow and become much more common than being experienced now. This will be particularly so given the digitisation of currency, the popularity of mobile money and the immense efforts being made by the Central Bank of Nigeria to encourage e-transactions in Nigeria. As people become a lot more comfortable with that form of commercial transaction, the ease and popularity of distant, and perhaps online, sales transactions would similarly skyrocket. A robust provision in the sale of goods legislation to deal with such matter would therefore be necessary.

It is hoped that some salient issues regarding the reform of the Sale of Goods Act 1893 have been highlighted. It is imperative that the Sale of Goods Act 1893 is urgently reformed. This statute is too dated to be regulating modern commercial transactions. This has necessitated the complete overhaul of the legislation in several jurisdictions. This required overhaul of the statute has been very slow to come in Nigeria. It is time that this all-important reform of the Sale of Goods Act 1893 is made.

This concludes the series on Sale of Goods Act reform. Meanwhile, should you have any comments on the issues raised concerning Sale of Goods Act reform, kindly share them using the comments area 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.

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