Learning a lesson about the Small Claims Court the hard way
After reading your 5 July issue article on what to do when good restorations go bad, it prompted me to offer my experience of a ‘reputable’ specialist.
I’ve owned a 1985 Lotus Turbo Esprit, for some 20 years. About four years ago I felt it was time for the final phase of my rolling project – the respray. I did a lot of research and eventually found a specialist in the outer London area, who came with a lot of positive feedback, and he gave me a reasonable quote.
All seemed to go well, and he appeared to be doing what we had agreed as was confirmed by the many photos he sent me during the repaint process. It was soon after I had got my car home that I started to noticed various defects in the paint, from sinkage and lines to lifting.
I contacted him about this, and he promised to put it right. I live some 100 miles from him so it was not a case of just popping down. When I tried to arrange to get the car to him, he’d make excuses that he was too busy with other projects or didn’t have enough staff.
I got tired of being brushed off and took him to the Small Claims Court. On the first visit, I provided a lot of evidence and statements confirming the state of the paintwork. The judge set out court guidelines for us both to follow with the aim to come to an arrangement.
As part of the court instructions, I took the car to the specialist, along with a witness, and he agreed that there were many faults with the paintwork done by him. However, he was only prepared put some of it right, ‘a blow over in places’ and his cash compensation offer was barely enough to put the rear bumper right.
The second visit to the courts did not go as well as I hoped, but I did manage to win back half of my respray costs. This judge said he could not use what evidence I’d originally provided and that if we didn’t sort it out now based on an offer made in early negotiations then we would have to re-do the whole process. I felt I had no option but to accept the lower offer, even though it will not go near to putting the car right. A warning to others: even though the evidence is in your favour the courts move in mysterious ways. In my opinion it would be best to seek legal representation, something I would have done had all this not coincided with the birth of my son. To get my car to the state it should be in, the cost is going to be considerably higher than what I originally paid due to all of the defects. I am now very reluctant to let anyone near my car. Darrin Alker, Gosport, Hants
Darrin Alker’s 1985 Lotus Turbo Espirit will need more money spent on it to put it to right.