Is there a common law definition of "sell" or some key elements?
What is required for a transaction to constitute a "sale"?
I have a situation where a license is required by statute to "sell" some specific type of equipment, and our company (a transport & logistics company) essentially operates as a middle-man on behalf of clients to purchase this equipment for them and transport it to them.
So the clients contact us and request us to purchase it from the manufacturer for them, in the following way:
- We take an order from the client
- We confirm with the manufacturer that the equipment is available
- We take payment from the client which is made up of 2 parts (the exact price of the equipment that we will pay to the manufacturer + our delivery fee). The manufacturer's cost of the equipment is available to the client, and we do not charge any commission on top of that. We charge an additional fee which is for the transport of the equipment to the client.
- We then pay the equipment cost to the manufacturer and arrange to transport it to the client.
Our business is set up as offering purchase and logistics services to clients, so it is clear to the clients that we are not the manufacturer.
So we don't stock the equipment and don't charge any commission or profit on each transaction. As we saw it, our work was to act as an agent for the client, who themselves can legally purchase the product from the manufacturer, and we think of ourselves as the purchaser and transporter, not the seller.
Recently it has been suggested that we are in fact selling the equipment and would need to apply for the relevant license.
It doesn't make sense for us to purchase a license to do something that we either are not doing, or are not profiting from, so if we need to purchase such a license to continue operating this way we would need to change our business model to cover those costs.
Are we selling it? And if so, why? Which specific thing that we are doing is the selling part, that if we eliminated it, would no longer constitute "selling" the equipment?
What is an accurate definition of selling or sale that will allow me to understand for myself whether or not we are selling the equipment?