A Bill of Sale is a document that is used to transfer ownership of a good or goods from a seller to a buyer. It acts as a proof of purchase, and is usually exchanged at the time that the ownership is actually transferred (for example, when car keys are handed over in exchange for cash). A Bill of Sale identifies the goods that are being transferred and allows the buyer to prove ownership of the goods, if there is a later dispute.
This means that a Bill of Sale serves quite a different purpose from a Sale of Goods Agreement (or a Vehicle Sale Agreement, in the case of a vehicle), although the two documents look quite similar and may have many things in common. We have both a Sale of Goods Agreement and a Vehicle Sale Agreement available separately.
A Sale of Goods Agreement is generally signed and exchanged between the parties ahead of time. By signing the document, the parties are agreeing that on some future date, the buyer will pay the agreed price for the goods, and the seller will hand the goods over to the buyer.
Instead, a Bill of Sale serves as a proof of purchase for the buyer, and confirms that the buyer has actually paid for the goods, and is now the owner of the goods.
How to use this document
This document can be prepared by the buyer or the seller. It is a good idea to provide as much detail as necessary so that the parties, the goods, the purchase price, and the various terms of the agreement can easily be identified.
Once the document has been prepared and before it is signed, make sure that both parties receive a copy of the document. Both parties should be given some time to review the document to make sure that their details are correct, that they understand the various terms, and that they are happy with the various terms.
At the time when ownership of the goods is transferred to the buyer (for example, when the buyer actually pays for and collects the goods), the parties should sign copies the document. Both parties will need a copy of the document for their own records. Therefore, at least two copies of the document may need to be printed, so that each party can keep a signed copy. If the parties are individual persons (rather than companies) then they will need to have their signatures witnessed by independent witnesses who are aged over 18. They cannot witness each other.
Both parties should then keep a copy of the document for their own records.
A Bill of Sale in Australia is subject to general principles of contract law.
If goods are being sold to the public, then the Australian Consumer Law which is set out in the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Commonwealth), may also be relevant.
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