Regarding restoration

One of the areas where Lawgistics is often asked to advise the motor trade concerns work carried out on high value or classic cars. Increasingly these very fine vehicles are purchased not for the sheer pleasure of driving them, but as an investment tool. In many cases the basic car is purchased in a mediocre or worn condition, then placed in the hands of a specialised restorer, who is given a wide brief to bring the car up to “Concours” standard.

All too often neither customer or restorer sets down in writing any terms that govern the contract or the consequences of delayed completion, late or non-payment. Sometimes parts must be remanufactured or original parts sourced from remote suppliers at high cost. This is commonplace in restoration work and should be catered for and anticipated.

There also often is a dispute about what constitutes a restoration, with a wide spectrum of definition leading to misunderstanding and unfair criticism of what has been done. For instance, the car might be highly original in every area, but some parts might be damaged, needing refurbishment or replacement where the part cannot be rescued. The cost of repairing the old parts might be substantially more than replacement, but for the sake of continued originality, unavoidable. When a car is put back together with original parts that can never be made to look pristine, but which maintain the historic integrity of the vehicle, there should never be a dispute about the final finish of the job. It is what is possible with the ravages of time and historic use built into the vehicle.

A good restorer will always dedicate a space for storage of all parts for a particular car and make sure every part is labelled as belonging to “that” vehicle, taking care to photographically document every item , both in place, and again once stripped and ready for cleaning and repair. A final photograph of the fully refurbished part will complete the timeline and traceability of all parts of the car. This avoids the awful possibility that a customer might allege that “valuable parts were taken from his car to be used elsewhere”, an allegation we know has been made on more than one occasion!

Finally, any contract to undertake a restoration should include a clause dealing with abandonment. It happens! It never ceases to amaze us that there exist in almost all specialisms, customers whose ideas far exceed their means to achieve them. When their Lamborghini falls in value, while the restoration bill keeps mounting, it is hard for both owner and restorer to justify another huge invoice when it seems like money is being thrown down a rather deep drain!

As always, Lawgistics are here to help with advice, but you may not like our choice of colour scheme!

For advice on how to avoid confusion or conflict over restoration costs, or help to resolve issues around a restoration, Lawgistics Members can get advice on this and other legal matters by contacting the legal team on 01480 455500.


Authors: Philip Strickland

Published: 19 Aug 2019


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