PENDRAGON has had a conviction for misleading commercial practice involving the sale of an ex-rental car overturned.
A Middlesbrough-based Evans Halshaw branch of the motor group was taken to court last year because an advertisement allegedly didn’t give relevant information about the vehicle’s previous keeper. It was also claimed that the customer was told ‘the guy who owned it’ caused noticeable scratches on the gear lever.
Both allegations were denied by parent group Pendragon in the prosecution brought by Middlesbrough Council and the case had an initial hearing at Teesside Magistrates’ Court last July. When it went to a district judge in October, Pendragon was found guilty of not telling the buyer that the sole previous owner had, in fact, been Enterprise Leasing Company and the following month it was fined £134,000 and told to pay costs of £9,360.
However, it launched an appeal, which was heard at Teesside Crown Court, and Judge Howard Crowson quashed the conviction, reported the Northern Echo.
Following its court victory, Pendragon issued a statement saying: ‘We are delighted that having succeeded with our appeal the conviction has been quashed.
‘We would like to thank our legal team led by Jonathan Kirk QC, and Geldards LLP and also thank the independent expert, Dean Bowkett. We are extremely pleased that the judge remarked that the courts exist to protect consumers against bad bargains where the playing-field is not level, and not irrational prejudice against ex-business use vehicles whose values are entirely unaffected.
‘As a leading and reputable retailer, we will continue to take our legal obligations very seriously and treat our customers fairly.’
Sue Robinson, director of the National Franchised Dealers Association, commented: ‘It is extremely positive to see that Pendragon have won their appeal on multi-user vehicles, following their conviction of unfair commercial practice after advertising an ex-rental car as having one registered keeper.
‘The conviction was overturned by the court due to the fact that the vehicle’s value was not affected by its previous business use.’
However, she warned: ‘Whilst it is positive to see clarity regarding multi-user vehicles, this does not set a precedent.’