Internet Auctions / Trade Sales. Timing is everything

One of our clients recently bought a successful claim against a large franchise dealer with our assistance, for selling a poor quality car via an internet auction site.  The franchise dealer gave a glowing description of the vehicle on the internet site but when our clients took delivery the engine immediately showed a serious fault which would have proved an expensive repair.

The franchise dealer attempted to defend the claim on the basis of:

a) Terms and conditions on the internet auction site

b) It was a trade sale

The judge held that the terms and conditions on the site were limited to the contract between the buyer and the internet auctioneers and secondly the invoice presented by the franchise dealer seeking to classify the transactions as a trade sale was presented AFTER the two parties had entered the contract of sale/purchase.

As you legal eagles will know, if terms and conditions are supplied after the contract then they have no effect whatsoever.

Lawgistics Top Tip

The sale of vehicles via internet auction sites is rapidly increasing.  If you can win on the late presentation of the invoice to try to swing into play the ‘Trade Sale’ card (ie no protection for poor quality) then all well and good.  However, more than this be very inquisitive in an email before you buy and ask the seller searching questions about the car for sale.  Get the seller to disclose the service history?  Back check the garages that did the servicing.  Check the MOT history, online. Ask about faults, bodywork, accident damage.  Often dealers will arrange for someone else to collect the vehicle so why not get the seller to commit to take the vehicle back if you are not satisfied.  If the answers they have given to you are correct then why wouldn’t they?

Published: 02 Dec 2011

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