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Legal Maxim of Nemo Dat Quod Non Habet

 Legal Maxim of Nemo Dat Quod Non Habet

By Shweta Nair


Meaning:

No one can transfer a better title than he himself possess or it is also known as no one can give or transfer who possess not. 

Where a person sells goods through another wherein the seller is not the owner of goods or where a person without the authority or consent of the owner sells the goods to another. The buyer does not get a good title to those goods as the seller’s title is a defective title. 

Certain Exceptions: 

Even though the seller may not have right to sell those goods, still the buyer may have the right. 

  1. Title by Estopple: 

Where the owner of the goods by his conduct induces the buyer to believe that the seller has an authority to sell, the owner is estopped or prevented from denying the seller’s authority to sell and the buyer gets a good title with respect to those goods. 


  1. Sale by Mercantile Agent:

Following conditions must be fulfilled: 

  1. The Mercantile Agent must have obtained the possession of the goods with the consent of the owner of the goods. 

  2. The Mercantile Agent must be in possession of the goods as a Mercantile Agent. 

  3. He must have sold those goods in his ordinary course of business as a Mercantile Agent. 

  4. The buyer must have purchased those goods in good way and without having any notice or knowledge of the fact whether the mercantile agent has an authority to sell it or not. 

  5. If all the above conditions are fulfilled, the buyer gets the good title with respect to those goods. 


  1. Sale by one of the several joint owners:

Where one of the several joint owners is in possession of the goods with the consent of the other joint owners and if he sells off those goods then the property in those goods will be transferred to the person who purchases those goods in good faith and who has no notice at the time of sale whether the seller has an authority to sell. 


  1. Sale by a person who is in possession under a voidable contract:

  1. The person must have obtained the possession of the goods under a voidable contract under Section 19 or Section 19A of the Indian Contract Act.

  2. The contract must not have been rescinded at the time of the sale. 

  3. In such a case, the buyer acquires a good title with respect to those goods provided that 

  1. He acted in good faith

  2. He had no notice about the seller’s defective title. 


  1. Sale by a seller who is in possession after sale:

The seller must be in possession of the goods even after selling of those goods and if such a seller delivers or transfers those goods under any sale to any person who receives those goods in good faith and without having knowledge about the previous sale, then the second buyer will acquire a good title with respect to those goods notwithstanding the fact that the property in the goods had been passed to the first buyer. 


  1. Sale by a buyer who is in possession of the goods:

  1. The first buyer must be in possession of the goods under a contract. 

  2. He must have obtained the possession of the goods with the consent of the seller who is the owner. 

  3. The first buyer must have transferred those goods under sale to the second buyer. 

  4. The second buyer will get a good title with respect to those goods provided that 

  1. He acted in good faith

  2. He must have no notice of any lien or any other right of the original seller. 


  1. Sale by an unpaid seller: 

Where an unpaid seller is in possession of the goods after exercising his right of lien, a right of stoppage in transit and if he resales those goods, the buyer gets a good title with respect to those goods even against the original buyer. 


  1. Sale in market overt:

So, where a buyer purchases goods in a market overt, the buyer gets a good title to those goods provided that

  1. He acted in good faith 

  2. He had no notice of any defect or lack of title on the part of the seller. 


  1. Finder of goods:

When the finder of goods sells off those goods found, the buyer gets a good title to those goods provided that the finder of goods sells the goods under the following circumstances: 

  1. Even if the owner of the goods is found, the owner refuses to pay the lawful charges to the finder of goods. 

  2. When the goods are perishable.

  3. When the owner of the goods cannot be found even after reasonable attempt. 

  4. When the value of the goods is such that the lawful charges incurred by the finder of goods amounts to 2/3rd if the value of the goods. 

  5. Right of the pledgee to sell the goods

The pledgee has got a right to sell of the goods pledged with him by the pledger if the pledger fails to performs the promise or repay the debt when due. In such a case, he passes a good title to the buyer. 











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