Is the seller a private individual or a trader?


If the former, there is no redress available to the buyer if something goes wrong.

Author: Jason Williams
Reading time: 2 minutes

This article is 3 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.

If an individual sells you something and it goes wrong, the question is often asked – are they selling something privately or are they selling it in the course of a trade or business?

If the former, there is no redress available to the buyer if something goes wrong.  If the seller is doing so in the course of a trade or business the buyer has potential statutory rights against the seller should something go wrong with the goods purchased.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has recently decided that whilst each case has to be decided on its merits, it nevertheless laid down the following (non-exhaustive) criteria for determining one way or the other. 

·         Is the sale on the online platform carried out in an organised manner?

·         Is the sale intended to generate profit?

·         Does the seller have an advantage over the consumer by having technical information and expertise relating to the products which the consumer does not necessarily have?

·         Does the seller have a legal status which enables them to engage in commercial activities?

·         To what extent is the online sale connected to the seller’s commercial or professional activity?

·         Is the seller subject to VAT?

·         Does the seller, acting on behalf of a particular trader or on their own behalf or through another person acting in their name and on their behalf, receive remuneration or an incentive?

·         Does the seller purchase new or second-hand goods to resell them, thus making that a regular, frequent and/or simultaneous activity in comparison with their usual commercial or business activity?

·         Are the goods for sale all of the same type or value?

·         Is the offer to sell concentrated on a small number of goods?

The ECJ stated that the presence of one or more of these factors does not, by itself, make the seller a trader in relation to any transaction.

Jason Williams

Legal Advisor

Read more by this author

Getting in touch

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