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How Do You Measure ‘Quality’ In A Contract?


Often, one of the most difficult things to define in a written contract for goods or services is the level of quality required or the specification. Ideally, the specification should be precise and measurable so that the parties can then determine whether the goods or services meet the desired levels of quality or specification.

There was a recent dispute between two parties where one had commissioned the other to provide interior designs for an upmarket hotel which included the supply of furniture for the hotel. The buyer argued that the furniture did not meet the standards required for a five-star hotel. The buyer withheld some of the seller’s fee so the seller initiated an action to recover this sum. The buyer argued that the furniture was only suitable for a three-star hotel and not five-star.

In the ‘Initial Brief’ drafted by the buyer, there was no mention of a requirement for the furniture to be of ‘five-star’ quality. As the buyer had not specified this, the court did not accept the buyer’s argument.


If there is anything to be learnt from this case, it is that it is prudent to make the specification/quality as clear as possible. Think about the detail and describe it. For example, the buyer and seller might agree on:

  1. the type material that should be used to make the product;

  2. the dimensions of the product;

  3. a full description of the service including times for delivery;

  4. the industry standards (if any) that the product/service should meet; and/or

  5. the features and benefits that the buyer can expect from the product/service.

Sometimes it can be very difficult to fully describe the requirements in respect of quality/specification. The main thing is to give it some thought and be as precise and detailed as you possibly can. If detail is scant, it can help to use such general phrases as ‘five-star’ quality!

Contact Richard Jenkins on 024 7698 0613 or for further advice or assistance.

This should not be relied upon for legal advice.

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