sale, in law, transfer of ownership in return for money. An exchange of goods for goods is termed barter, but the distinction between sale and barter is mainly technical; laws that govern one govern the other equally. Sale and barter are distinguished from the giving of a gift, which involves no valuable consideration. Laws governing sales distinguish fundamentally between sales of real property and sales of personal property. If nothing is said to the contrary, the law of sales is understood to be the law of sales of personal property, sales of real property being governed by real-estate law. Delivery of goods sold passes title to the goods, even though full payment has not been made; the seller may sue for the amount due him, but cannot recover the goods. A contract may provide, however, that the goods, though delivered, remain the property of the seller until full payment for them has been made. By a contract, one may purchase goods not yet in existence, e.g., the crop that a farmer will grow in his field. Sales are governed by the Uniform Commercial Code in all U.S. jurisdictions, except Louisiana.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.