bought a clas­sic pup? here’s what to do…

Buy­ing a clas­sic car should be a joy­ous ex­pe­ri­ence – but what if it turns out to be not as ad­ver­tised? We ex­am­ine what you can and can’t do if your new car isn’t up to scratch

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - This Week - Rob Mar­shall

Alead­ing lawyer is urg­ing buy­ers of clas­sic cars to be wary of traders us­ing the term ‘sold as seen with no war­ranty given or im­plied’.

An­drew Leakey, head of the Dis­pute Res­o­lu­tion de­part­ment at na­tional law firm, Stephen­sons, wants clas­sic car own­ers to know that this state­ment is not as iron-clad – or, in­deed, wa­ter-tight – as many be­lieve it to be.

He says: ‘In­de­pen­dent war­ranties can­not af­fect your en­ti­tle­ment en­shrined un­der the Con­sumer Rights Act 2015 when you buy from a trader. The state­ment “Sold as seen with no war­ranty given or im­plied” does not give the trader a get-out clause. The court will also con­sider the pur­pose of a car sale. If a ve­hi­cle was in­tended for spares and not for road­wor­thi­ness, a court would not re­quire a trader to bring it up to run­ning stan­dard.’

He adds: ‘Con­sider also that pay­ing even a small de­posit of more than £100 with a credit card makes the fi­nance provider just as li­able should any dis­pute oc­cur, and tak­ing out le­gal cover with your house­hold pol­icy can help to cover the costs in­volved with mak­ing a claim.’

How­ever, while buy­ing clas­sic cars from traders might be the safest op­tion legally, there are other ad­van­tages, as Richard Wrightson of Cotswold Col­lec­tors Cars of Bibury, Glouces­ter­shire ex­plains: ‘Apart from le­gal pro­tec­tion, buy­ers also ben­e­fit from trader ex­pe­ri­ence. We en­cour­age cus­tomers to be part of our “club”. Should some­thing go wrong post-sale, we do all that we can to help. It is un­likely that you’d get this sup­port from a pri­vate ven­dor.’

Buy­ing pri­vately is some­times ( but not al­ways) a cheaper op­tion, but you have few come­backs, un­less you can prove that the ven­dor’s pri­mary mo­tive was profit, mak­ing them a trader/dealer in the eyes of the HMRC and there­fore restor­ing con­sumer rights that would not ap­ply oth­er­wise. You may also wish to see if the ven­dor is ad­ver­tis­ing other ve­hi­cles for sale; check to see if the yel­low trader’s sec­tion of the V5C is miss­ing and ver­i­fy­ing whether or no the ven­dor is sell­ing via a trade/ busi­ness ac­count on a phys­i­cal or on­line auc­tion. And al­ways con­tact a ven­dor ask­ing for in­for­ma­tion about ‘the car’ and not a spe­cific ve­hi­cle. How­ever, should even a do­mes­tic seller make false claims in an ad­vert, thereby mis­rep­re­sent­ing the ve­hi­cle to in­flate its value, you could con­sider mak­ing a per­sonal le­gal claim for at least a par­tial re­fund.

Even so, it can be im­pos­si­ble for an in­no­cent ven­dor to be aware of every past re­pair and cur­rent foible af­fect­ing a car that is many years – or even decades – old. How­ever, a lot de­pends legally on how much you paid for the car and whether or not that sum is con­sid­ered to be fair.

Should you buy a re­stored clas­sic for half the typ­i­cal restora­tion cost, it could be ar­gued that you could not ra­tio­nally ex­pect it to be in first­class con­di­tion (un­less the car had been ad­ver­tised as such) and that a rea­son­able per­son will ex­pect to bud­get for some re­pair work above and be­yond rou­tine ser­vic­ing and main­te­nance. Should you dis­cover that the same car was dan­ger­ous and non-road­wor­thy, within a very short pe­riod of tak­ing ownership – de­spite the ve­hi­cle be­ing sold with a full MoT and with no de­fects dis­closed in the ad­vert – you would likely have a much stronger case.

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