Car Dealers’ 134k Fine – OVERTURNED on Appeal

At the end of November 2018, we issued a Legal Update stating how Middlesbrough Trading Standards had prosecuted a car dealership, which resulted in the court handing down a £134,000 fine for an alleged offence under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.  That being for their second-time failure to disclose in its advertising that a vehicle it was selling had once been owned by a leasing company.  Specifically, stating that it had “one previous owner” without disclosing that this owner was a leasing company.  Trading Standards (in support of a previous opinion by the Advertising Standards Authority) felt that failure to mention this point was “misleading” and could affect the transactional decision of a prospective buyer.  Surprising, given that the consumer who complained about it, had found out about its history prior to purchase and so never went ahead to buy the car in the first place.

For several months subsequently other Trading Standards Departments and consumers have, frankly, rammed that fine down the throats of the motor industry.  

We were delighted therefore to learn that, on appeal, this fine has been overturned.  The judge ruling that the ex-business use of the car would have had no effect on its value. In what the author of this article can only view as a veiled criticism of the prosecution and its original outcome, the judge went on to say 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.

No doubt the motor industry is rather more satisfied with the decision now than either the officers of Middlesbrough Council - or indeed their local Council Tax-payers!

For issues or disputes with Trading Standards, finance companies or consumers, Lawgistics Members can contact the legal team.


Authors: Jason Williams

Published: 20 Apr 2019


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