Internet Auctions / Trade Sales – Timing is everything


There was a glowing description of the vehicle on the internet site but when our clients took delivery the engine immediately showed a serious fault

Author: Dennis Chapman
Reading time: 2 minutes

This article is 10 years old.

Read our disclaimer keyboard_arrow_down

This website content is intended as a general guide to law as it applies to the motor trade. Lawgistics has taken every effort to ensure that the contents are as accurate and up to date as at the date of first publication.

The laws and opinions expressed within this website may be varied as the law develops. As such we cannot accept liability for or the consequence of, any change of law, or official guidelines since publication or any misuse of the information provided.

The opinions in this website are based upon the experience of the authors and it must be recognised that only the courts and recognised tribunals can interpret the law with authority.

Examples given within the website are based on the experience of the authors and centre upon issues that commonly give rise to disputes. Each situation in practice will be different and may comprise several points commented upon.

If you have any doubt about the correct legal position you should seek further legal advice from Lawgistics or a suitably qualified solicitor. We cannot accept liability for your failure to take professional advice where it should reasonably be sought by a prudent person.

All characters are fictitious and should not be taken as referring to any person living or dead.

Use of this website shall be considered acceptance of the terms of the disclaimer presented above.

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?

Dennis Chapman

In remembrance of Dennis Chapman 1951 -2015

Read more by this author

Getting in touch

You can contact us via the form or you can call us on 01480 455500.