A reader has contacted The Telegraph‘s ‘Ask a Lawyer’ service for advice after a garage failed to scrap a car she was told was beyond economic repair.
When the engine failed at the end of last year, the owner of the garage said it needed to be scrapped, so the owner (Claire) signed it over to him on the understanding that he would scrap it on her behalf.
In her words: “The owner told me he made many investigations and spent a lot of money doing so, but that it was not repairable and needed to be scrapped.”
Claire has since spotted the car on the forecourt and, having checked the government website, has discovered that the car is taxed and has an MOT until September.
In response to a text, the garage owner said: “Just need to remove some parts. Have transferred to my business address so no need to worry regarding road tax etc”.
She says she feels “cheated” and wants to know if there is any recourse.
Act now or later
Gary Rycroft, a senior partner at Joseph A Jones & Co Solicitors, says: “I am not surprised you feel cheated because there are clear signs you might have been. If the car is sold on and not scrapped, I believe you do have a legal claim. However, a key question is whether to act now or wait until events have played out.”
If the car his waiting to be stripped down, there is, in his words, “no legal mischief to remedy”.
If the car is sold, Claire would have an opportunity to rescind the contract and be restored as the owner of the car. The claim would be on the basis of misrepresentation, either fraudulently, negligently or innocently.
Gary says: “If the garage owner goes on to sell your car, it seems clear that either a fraudulent or negligent misrepresentation has occurred. The garage owner could not argue that you simply made a bad deal when you agreed to transfer the car to him, because you would say you only did that because of the information he gave you about it not being repairable.”
Written or documentary evidence, such as text messages or emails, would be helpful.
Gary also suggests asking a friend or family member to contact the garage to see if the car is for sale.
Too soon to speculate?
Around four weeks have passed since Claire left the car at the garage, so it’s reasonable to expect it to be parked on the forecourt, either awaiting collection or the removal of parts. The fact that it’s got an MOT says nothing, although the current VED would suggest that the transfer of ownership is yet to take place.
If that’s the case, then Claire is within her rights to request an immediate transfer of ownership, if it didn’t happen when she left the car at the garage.
If, on the other hand, the garage intends to sell the car having told Claire that it should be scrapped, has he acted unethically? Let us know in the comments.
Source: The Telegraph (subscription required)