Can an entire family bring court proceedings for an alleged defective car?

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Luckily the Ruffles’ family dog didn’t turn up either as no doubt Pooch would have been allowed a woof on the witness stand too!

Author: Lawjaw
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This was an interesting case that we had to deal with. Nothing unusual about the facts of the case, and I will advise of the outcome below, but what was unusual was how the claim proceeded to court.

The claim was on the basis that the customer, Mr R, had bought a car for his daughter E and that it was allegedly defective.

The name of the Claimant and the Statement of Truth were signed, “The Ruffles Family”. I have made up the family name here to keep the Claimant’s anonymity.

Part of our client’s defence, notwithstanding the facts of the case, was that the claim had to be struck out automatically because “The Ruffles Family” was not a legal entity and, as such, a non-legal entity cannot either bring a claim and/or sign a Statement of Truth, as required by the Civil Procedure Rules.

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The court opted to simply change the name of the Claimant from “The Ruffles Family” to the name of the daughter, E!

A bizarre move given that she was not the contracting party. Her father, Mr R, had stated that he had purchased the car for his daughter. The court changed the name of a non-legal entity to a non-contracting party!

When it came to the witness statements, only the father, Mr R, provided one and not E, who was now bringing the claim thanks to the court’s intervention.

The daughter E turned up in court though AND was allowed to give evidence, despite no-one having advance warning of what she was going to say. Her father was also allowed to give evidence even though he was not the one bringing the claim. Luckily the Ruffles’ family dog didn’t turn up either as no doubt Pooch would have been allowed a woof on the witness stand too!

Thankfully and entirely sensibly, the claim was rejected. The car was bought for Mr R’s teenage daughter to learn to drive in and had done some 7000 miles over 11 months before problems materialised with the clutch/gear combination. 

Mr R said he felt the car should have lasted longer before such problems arose – a durability argument – whilst E admitted (to her credit) that during this time the car had been fault free until now. 

The claim was thus rejected. And maybe this is the reason why the court did what it did. Because the judge, having read the claim and the defence, knew that it did not matter whether father, daughter, or Uncle Tom Cobbly-Ruffles had brought the claim – it was doomed on the facts.

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