Explaination of the maxim nemo dat quod non habet

In relation to the Sale of goods Act

Explain the maxim nemo dat quod non habet

  • The common law rule of nemo dat quod non habet, literally means one cannot give what he has not.
  • It means that a seller of goods cannot give the buyer thereof a better title than he himself has in the goods.
  • This rule was developed by the common law to protect the interests of the true owners of goods.
  • The rule is now embodies in section 23 (1) of the Sale of Goods Act Cap 31, which provide inter alia“… .where goods are sold by a person who is not the owner thereof and who does not sell them under the authority or with consent of the owner, the buyer acquires no better title than the seller had ”
  • This rule is best illustrated by the decision in Cundy V. Lindsay and Company Ltd. Where a person who had acquired goods fraudulently purported to sell them to appellant. It was held that the apparent had no title in the goods as the fraudulent person had non to pass to him.



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