How to determine the characteristics to which the object of the sale agreement has to conform?
Jurisdiction – ESTONIA
Primarily the object of the sale agreement has to conform to the characteristics agreed in the sale agreement. But how to proceed in case the parties to the sale agreement have not specified the necessary characteristics and quality requirements?
In that case the first step would be to determine whether the thing fits the purpose for which the buyer needs it, or in other cases for purposes for which this type of things would ordinarily be used. If the thing fits its purpose, then it has to be further assessed whether it meets at least the medium quality level. Provided that the object of the sale agreement does not fit its purpose or does not meet at least the medium quality level, then the seller can be deemed to have breached its obligations under the sale agreement.
Estonian Supreme Court has for example found that in case of a residential building, the building fits its usual purpose if it is insulated and can be heated under normal conditions. Otherwise the building does not fit its purpose nor at least the medium quality level.
There may also be instances where the thing fits its purpose but not the medium quality level. A typical example would be the purchase of a used car. Let’s assume that A buys a car from B, the mileage of which is 100,000 km. After conclusion of the sale agreement it becomes evident that the car can be used for its intended purpose (is driveable), but the technical details are substantially more worn out than the buyer could have expected. In that case it has to be assessed whether the defects and the wear and tear go beyond what would be normal for a similar car with the same mileage. If the answer is yes then the car does not meet at least the medium quality level and the seller has breached its obligations under the sale agreement.