US Warranty Law in a nutshell

In my consulting work, I have recently been dealing more and more with export transactions to the United States. In addition to product liability law and customs regulations, warranty law also plays a role. In today’s article, I would like to shed some light on this particular area of law.

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Basically, the law of warranty in the United States is located in the law of sales. This in turn generally falls within the exclusive regulatory competence of the individual states. Nevertheless, warranty law has been largely standardized by the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC). The UCC is a draft for a uniform commercial code for the entire USA. Almost all states have now adopted the model provisions. Specifically, the warranty standards are found in UCC Art. 2.

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Sections 2-313 to 314 of the UCC distinguish between express and implied warranties for movable property. In this context, any warranty given by the seller with respect to the properties of the object of sale is deemed to be a warranty with respect to the warranted property (express warranties). Merchants are also subject to the warranty that their goods are of average quality and suitable for normal use and adequately packaged (implied warranty of merchantability). In the context of implied warranty, there is also a legal presumption that a purchaser may assume implicitly that the object of purchase is suitable for the purpose intended by the purchaser (warranty of fitness for a particular purpose).

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Completion can only be claimed in exceptional cases (specific performance; replevin, UCC § 2-716).

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A corresponding lawsuit must be filed within four years after the right of action arises. The right of action arises at the time of the breach of contract (UCC § 2-725).

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Warranty declarations according to Art. 2 UCC are excludable. For example, it is possible to exclude the warranty of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose. However, the limitation of liability / exclusion of liability must be in writing and “clearly recognizable”. However, the requirement of recognizability shall also be fulfilled if the clause was known from previous business relationships without the need for it to be highlighted in the text of the contract or the terms and conditions (U.S. Fibres, Inc. v. Proctor & Schwartz, Inc. 509 Federal Reporter, Second Series 1043 (US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit).

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