Legal Article - Business Law

Liens - Abandoned Vehicles

One aspect of law that is very relevant to service or repair operations is how to deal with people who won't pay for repairs carried out on a vehicle.

When someone delivers a vehicle to you under such a temporary arrangement as a repair you are classed as a 'bailee' and the customer is a 'bailor'.  In law a bailee for repairs is entitled to retain possession (called exercising a 'lien') until paid.

The same does not apply to routine servicing.

Motor dealers are able to exercise liens on cars although as soon as the vehicle is released, even without payment, the right to exercise the lien is lost i.e. the vehicle cannot be reposed.

If there was, say, a valuable item in the vehicle e.g. CD's or a coat then the customer would be entitled to remove those since they don't form part of the vehicle.  A fitted music system however could not be removed.

If a vehicle is abandoned and all efforts to get the owner to collect it fail there is a procedure under the Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977 to dispose of the vehicle. 

It is important to use the correct procedure and give the right information in notices and therefore if the situation does arise please ring Lawgistics for assistance. 

Please note that if a payment is due the period between giving the notice and selling the goods must be at least 3 months. 

 Also, if there is a dispute about payment then this procedure can't be used in any event.

Published: 16 Mar 2011

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