Sale of Goods Act can be evoked in online transactions to offer rights and protections – Jude Atakora Tufuor
The Sale of Goods Act regulates the conduct of sale of goods transactions between traders and customers.
Private legal practitioner and lecturer at the Central University Faculty of Law, Jude Atakora Tufuor has stated that although the Sale of Goods Act, 1962(Act 137) does not clearly cover online transactions, the Act can be evoked to offer rights and protection during online transactions. An assertion he also says is highly argued in his book, Atakora, and Attakora on the Sale of Goods with co-author, Kweku Attakora Dwomoh.
The Sale of Goods Act regulates the conduct of sale of goods transactions between traders and customers by putting a statutory footing on implied conditions for the quality and fitness of goods in every contract involving the sale of goods in Ghana.
Speaking on the Law Programme with host Samson Lardy Anyenini, he explained that the Sale of Goods Act may be evoked at three levels. The first being that certain online transactions may eventually end up offline, thereby bringing into being the Act.
“For instance transactions on platforms like Jiji or Tornatom, where an item is advertised, you don’t necessarily buy the item per what you have seen. You normally see the details of the seller, you engage the seller, and you transact with the seller. Under those instances, you may go offline. But that itself, you may be dealing with the Sale of Goods Act,” he said.
In addition, he explains that the conduct of some third-party online transactions where sometimes items purchased and delivered do not correspond with the original description may be grounds to evoke the Sale of Goods Act.
"You are looking at platforms like Ebay, Amazon, and Jumia. The third-party online transactions, is such that the person you’re dealing with, you don’t really know the seller. However, when you go online and you select the item that you want, and it goes to the basket and you pay for it, what is delivered to you is probably not what you saw.
“By that in itself, our argument we are enforcing, (which is in the book) is that we believe strongly that this is covered by the Sale of Goods. Because the seller goes through a process to work out the specifications which you have provided online, to select what you want and deliver same to you.”
In chapter 11 of their book, authors Atakora and Attakora write extensively on the impact of electronic commerce on sale of goods in Ghana with regard to ownership of goods, risk in those goods and the extent to which a buyer can reject those goods.
But Mr. Atakora notes that it is important online sales transactions operate within the Electronic Transactions Act, 2008, (Act 772). Without which the Sale of Goods Act may not be of much assistance.
“Section 47 of Act 772 lists a tall order of mandatory requirements for those who operate online transactions. Especially for those who make it open for buyers to actually go out there and make sales, you’re expected to provide your name, your address, contact details, policies on Alternative Dispute Resolution, policies on resolution in terms of the goods, and also refund policy. But most of these online platforms don’t have such policies.
“When you transact outside these platforms, technically you’re operating outside the law. So the extent to which the Sale of Goods Act may come to your assistance is when you comply with the Act 772, these mandatory requirements under the Electronic Transactions Act.”
Book Atakora &Attakora on Sale of Goods
The book according to the authors, is to educate and inform traders on their rights and obligations in various trading markets in the face of increasing trading volumes globally.
The aim of the book is to elaborate and codify the laws on the sale of goods as are peculiar to the Anglophone West African market taking into consideration the decision made by judges from the various courts and the socio-cultural impacts on the various transactions.
The scope of the book is restricted to the law on the sale of goods (Sale of Goods Act, 1962, Act 137), focusing extensively on the nature of a contract of sale as formulated at common law, espoused and developed under case law and applied by statute.
The book also covers international contracts for the sale of goods, elaborating on the international commercial terms as issued by the International Chamber of Commerce for 2020 and the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (1980), and the impact of electronic transactions on the sale of goods generally.