The case – Barnes v McGrath – was heard in Evesham County Court on December 6 and concerns the rights of a dealer to be informed of, examine and undertake repairs himself or at his expense if a car breaks down after sale.
In this case the judge ruled that even though the selling dealer, Sean McGrath, had not been made aware of any fault until FOUR months after purchase and THREE months after the repairs had been completed he was STILL liable to pay the buyer’s bill – plus £443 court costs!
The buyer had instructed another garage to fit the replacement engine at a cost of £2710.73…
Lawyers had previously been of the opinion that the Sale of Goods Act 1979, as amended, provides the right of the selling dealer to examine and, if necessary, repair the vehicle at their expense and that any repairs should be reported and agreed with them before any repair was undertaken – providing this was done in a reasonable time.
‘This decision would seem to set the currently accepted position regarding required repairs under the Sale of Goods Act on its head,’ said Car Dealer Magazine’s legal expert Lucy Bonham Carter.
‘The dealer, Mr McGrath, was not told that the vehicle had failed or he would have agreed to fix it in his own repair shop. Instead he has been landed with the option of a legal battle or a big bill.’
Mr McGrath who had no formal legal advice prior to court is now being represented by Lucy’s firm AutoLaw – the same firm that gives advice to Car Dealer Club members. The case is now going to appeal early in the new year.
Mr McGrath originally decided to defend the case, but did not seek representation or formal legal advice. If he’d had access to Car Dealer Club’s free legal advice line that comes with every £25 membership, things may have been rather different…