Caveat emptor is a common law doctrine that places the burden on buyers to reasonably examine property before making a purchase. A buyer who fails to meet this burden is unable to recover for defects in the product that would have been discovered had this burden been met. The phrase “caveat emptor” is Latin for “let the buyer beware.”
Caveat emptor principles are generally still followed today; however, they are subject to exceptions. Under the doctrine of concealment, for example, a seller who withholds material information when they have a duty to disclose is not protected by caveat emptor.
See, e.g. SEC v. Zandford, 535 U.S. 813 (2002).
[Last updated in July of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]