One of the biggest areas of enquiry to the Helpline is in relation to this chestnut of a question. And the answer? It depends…
Firstly what does the law say?
Goods are of satisfactory quality if they meet the standard that a reasonable person would regard as satisfactory taking account of any description of the goods, the price (if relevant) and all the other relevant circumstances.
So what could a reasonable person think? In the case of Bramhill v Edwards 2004 a company sold a motor home 102 inches wide when the legal maximum in the UK was 100 inches. However, at the time many ‘illegal’ vehicles were sold and the authorities turned a blind eye. The Court held that in these circumstances, as reasonable users of motor caravans knew of this issue then the vehicle was of satisfactory quality.
Additionally in the legislation ‘quality’ is taken to be:
a) fitness for all the purposes for which goods of the kind in question are commonly supplied.
So if you sell a car which is only suitable for banger racing then unless the customer has agreed this it would not be of satisfactory quality.
b) Appearance and finish
c) Freedom from minor defects
This can lead to problems, since when is a defect not a defect? A characteristic road noise, a small rattle on the gear lever, a smell etc, etc. In many cases these are part and parcel of the second hand vehicle.
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As we always say, a MOT pass is a valuable piece of evidence to show there is a particular level of safety at the time of sale.
If something drops off the car soon after sale it would not satisfy the measure of durability. It has to last a ‘reasonable’ time.
In future legal updates we will demonstrate how particular cases have given some precedent to these aspects of the law.