Customer ordered to pay our client’s court costs in mileage dispute

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A mileage disclaimer sticker was also displayed on dashboard at the time of sale, advising that the mileage must be deemed incorrect unless otherwise stated in writing.

Author: Katie Fitzjohn
Published:
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This article is 5 months old.

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A Lawgistics member recently succeeded in defending civil and criminal claims concerning a vehicle sold with alleged mileage discrepancies. 

The Claimant (customer) asserted the vehicle sold by our client had two mileage discrepancies and therefore, had been misdescribed, in breach of Section 11 of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 or Section 13 of the Sale of Goods Act 1979 in the alternative. As such, the Claimant sought a full refund of the purchase price in addition to hire car costs.

The Claimant relied on one MOT entry from February 2015 which recorded the mileage as 89,000 miles. A significant mileage for a three-year-old car! The mileage was then recorded as 10,000 miles in July 2015 and increased incrementally yearly, as one would expect.

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The Claimant also relied on one repair invoice which recorded the mileage as 122,000 miles in early 2019 but the vehicle was sold later that year with a mileage of 92,000 miles. 

Our client stated the above discrepancies were both simply the result of clerical error and could be easily rectified. Indeed, our client contacted the repair garage who admitted they had incorrectly entered the mileage amount in 2019 and issued a corrected invoice.

Our client further relied on maintenance invoices carried out prior to sale and rental agreements which were consistent with the mileage advertised at the point of sale.

A mileage disclaimer sticker was also displayed on dashboard at the time of sale, advising that the mileage must be deemed incorrect unless otherwise stated in writing.

The Claimant contacted Trading Standards who proceeded to prosecute our client through the criminal courts for breach of the Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations 2008.

The criminal trial was held before the civil trial and resulted in a not guilty verdict. 

Despite this outcome, the Claimant continued to pursue their claim through the civil courts.

At the civil hearing, the judge reminded the parties that it was the Claimant’s responsibility to establish his case on balance of probability that the mileage had been tampered with and vehicle had been misdescribed.

The judge agreed that the MOT mileage of 89,000 miles was completely wrong and was most likely the result of “a slip of the finger”. The correct mileage should have been 8,000 or 9,000 miles.

The Claimant’s case, therefore, predominately relied on one repair document, which our client had shown was the result of a clerical error and had already been corrected by the repairing garage.

In light of all the evidence produced, the judge concluded that it would be perverse to uphold the Claimant’s allegations based on one invoice. Accordingly, the Claimant’s case was dismissed.

The judge further commented that, in any event, the mileage did not form a central part of the sale and the mileage disclaimer sticker further protected our client. 

The judge also questioned why the Claimant continued their claim despite Trading Standards failing to provide any evidence of a breach. As a result, the Claimant was ordered to pay our client’s costs of court attendance and witness expenses.

This was a great outcome for our client and should serve as a reminder that the courts expect all parties to act reasonably.

Katie Fitzjohn

Legal Advisor

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