The thorny question of storage charges

legal updates

The problem with recovering storage charges is due to a Court of Appeal decision in 2001.

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.

A customer comes into the workshop and hands over the keys to their car with the request that you undertake work to this, that and the other.  You provide them with a written quote and they sign it asking that you call them when the work is complete.

A few days later and your garage is sitting with a bill for £830 for parts and labour as per the quotation.  You ring the customer – but he does not answer.  You leave a voice-message asking to call in to collect his now repaired vehicle but still silence.  You only took his name and telephone number – no address.   The deadline passes and still nothing.

You have a dilemma.  You don’t want to put the car out on the highway just in case, in the middle of the night, Mr customer sneaks along with a spare key and disappears into the sunset with a fully functioning car without paying for it.

On the other hand, your storage facility on-site does not really have enough space to comfortably keeping his car on it and so you decide to invoke the storage charge on the basis that all the risk in the car is now on your shoulders.  If it gets damaged (or, heaven forbid, destroyed) whilst on your property your garage or your insurers will carry the can.

Then, two months later, the customer comes back in with £830 and a tissue of excuses up his sleeve.  You take his £830 but refuse to move the car back into his possession until he has paid the storage charges.  He refuses to pay.  You come to us for advice.

The problem with recovering storage charges is due to a Court of Appeal decision in 2001.  Malcolm Morris v Beaconsfield Motors.  And whilst that is now 17 years old, all lower courts are bound by the decision unless it is over-turned by the same or higher court.

That ruling is that, in general, you cannot charge for storage charges on the basis that the garage cannot recover from the customer the cost of expenses or losses incurred by that garage, which is exclusively for their own benefit in maintaining the right of lien (possession and possible sale) of the vehicle to which the debt relates to.  

It is not clear what would happen if the consumer is told that storage charges would be applied as those charges would then be payable under a separate contractual obligation.  Variations to a contract cannot always be enforced through acquiescence (silence) of the other party.

Our advice therefore is simple – when supplying a quotation – or similar – make it clear in writing (stating the address of the customer) that if the repairs are not paid for within 7 days of the invoice date, a storage charge of £x per day applies – and get your customer to sign directly next to it confirming that they are in agreement with that term.

Impression Communications LtdPutting the motive in automotive

Impression works with businesses across the automotive aftermarket supply chain such as parts suppliers, warehouse distributors, motor factors and independent garages. Covering all aspects of automotive aftermarket marketing, including social media, event management, customer newsletters and PR, Impression is able to quickly establish itself within a client’s business and work towards their objectives.

Jason WilliamsLegal AdvisorRead More by this author

Related Legal Updates

SHOCK & HORROR! A finance company seeks to influence an expert opinion!

Any finance house thinking of or seeking to emulate such unconscionable conduct, risks not only judicial ire and sanction but also being named and shamed.

Petty Grievances

Dealers can rest assured that the courts still take a very dim view of petty grievances blown out of proportion.

Default Judgments & Set Aside Applications – When is late too late?

This article explores the complexities and urgent timing needed to set aside default judgments in County Court, highlighting the importance of prompt legal action.

Why a good defence is essential

Delays are never helpful, and the sooner we get the claim form, the sooner we can get to work on your defence.

It pays to take professional advice on a court claim

Experience remarkable savings and expert legal support for your motor trade business with our competitively priced services.

Proceed with caution: legal pitfalls in caravan and motorhome deals

Curious if one of these vehicles is in your possession? Verify your stock and arm yourself with essential legal knowledge to navigate any potential challenges.

How to win a court claim from the outset

A poorly prepared or non-compliant claim could result in the case being thrown out and/or not everything being awarded to you.

Get in touch

Complete the form to get in touch or via our details below:

01480 455500

Vinpenta House
High Causeway

By submitting this quote you agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy & Cookies Policy.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.