My fault – it really was my fault when all was said and done.
‘Caveat Emptor’ certainly came into play – that Latin term that means ‘let the buyer beware’ and similar to the phrase, ‘sold as is,’ the term meaning that the buyer assumes the risk that a product or service may fail to meet expectations or have defects. Therefore, there is no recourse to be had if the product doesn’t meet expectation.
The term is actually part of a longer statement, ‘Caveat emptor, quia ignorare non debuit quod jus alienum emit’ – or, in English, ‘Let a purchaser beware’, for he ought not to be ignorant of the nature of the property which he is buying from another party. The assumption falls on the buyer to inspect and ensure that they inspect and are confident with the integrity of a product, land, or whatever before completing the transaction – and, in this, I am driving at service contracts as well.
Even better but less known is the term ‘Uberrimae fidei’ or the translation, ‘Doctrine of Utmost Good Faith’ which is the minimum standard that legally obliges all parties entering a contract to act honestly and not mislead or withhold critical information from one another. In short, it applies to many everyday transactions and is one of the most fundamental doctrines in commercial law including contracts for services.
At heart it ensures that both parties reveal critical, material details about the contract and its terms, the buyer to ask the right questions and probe away as a form of conveyance, the vendor to provide all information and, in parallel, to ascertain that the buyer is bona fide and of good faith as a purchaser.
The difference between the two is that a lot of contracts do not subscribe to the doctrine of utmost good faith but a high percentage is subject at least to caveat emptor. The commonality of the two is that one of the fundamental principles of contract law is that the law places the onus on the buyer to perform due diligence before entering into the contract or, in other words, the vendor only needs to disclose information requested by the buyer – but then there are special considerations that can come into play where the contract scope is vague based on estimates.
I’m not a lawyer – anything but. Nevertheless, I should have found out more about the vortex I entered into on signing an agreement, a contract as such, with one Jane Tarbert, a woman who was going to dominate my life is all perspectives and however one looks at it.
It all started with the advert that she had placed in ‘The Lady’ and there on-line – relatively short and simple as these adverts don’t come that cheap.
I had read the following and, yes, it appealed to me.
‘LIVE-IN Housekeeper/Caretaker/Companion – Suffolk/Cambridgeshire
Permanent Housekeeper/Caretaker/Companion sought for a 6 Bedroom village house, Suffolk, female occupants. This role will suit a younger hands-on, self-motivated person who is compliant and willing to take on anything. Duties include general housekeeping, cleaning, laundry, some cooking, caretaking, security and close companionship to the principal. Fluent English, French useful, clean driver’s licence, car provided, non-smoker and good education.
Apply with CV, checkable references and as much information about yourself as possible. DSS required and ASAP start.’
I needed a job and badly so, accommodation being preferred.
In short, I had lost my parents in an accident overseas and even though I had their house, I needed to rent it out to get an income from it, my only other income coming from some commercial property. I had gone through the cash side of my inheritance a little too quickly – yes, I had a bit of a blow-out, this perhaps one way for me to vent my anger at their loss but now I was on the cusp of some serious debt issues, mainly around my credit cards and keeping my car on the road. Fortunately, I was up to speed with other bills such as utilities, insurances and council tax but things were gradually slipping and given that I hadn’t worked since graduating, I couldn’t exactly present a credible curriculum vitae or résumé for working in a company or a financial institution.
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