Varley v Whipp: QBD 1900

The defendant agreed to buy from the plaintiff a self binder reaping machine, which the defendant had not seen, but which the plaintiff told him had been new the previous year and was represented to have only been used to cut 50 or 60 acres. On delivery the machine was rejected by the defendant, who complained that it was very old and had been mended. He returned the machine and the plaintiff sued to recover the price.
Held: There had been a contract for the sale of goods by description and, there having been no acceptance of the machine by the defendant, that the property had not passed to him, so that the plaintiff could not recover the price.
Specific or ascertained goods may be ‘bought by description’ within the meaning of this provision; it is not limited to unascertained goods.
Channell J said: ‘The term ‘sale of goods by description’ must apply to all cases where the purchaser has not seen the goods, but is relying on the description alone. It applies in a case like the present, where the buyer has never seen the article sold, but has bought by the description. In that case, by the Sale of Goods Act, 1893, s.13, there is an implied condition that the goods shall correspond with the description, which is a different thing from a warranty. The most usual application of that section no doubt is to the case of unascertained goods, but I think it must also be applied to cases such as this where there is no identification otherwise than by description.’


Channell, Bucknill JJ


[1900] 1 QB 513


Sale of Goods Act 1893 13


England and Wales

Cited by:

CitedHarlingdon and Leinster Enterprises Ltd v Christopher Hull Fine Art Ltd CA 15-Dec-1989
The defendant auctioneer sold a painting to the plaintiff which turned out to be a forgery. The plaintiff appealed against a finding that it had not relied upon the attribution, saying that there had been a breach of the requirement that the paintig . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 18 May 2022; Ref: scu.561150