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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 70516
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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Please hope you can help..my partner runs a small carbody repair

Customer Question

Please hope you can help..my partner runs a small carbody repair shop wiv our son..we did a customers car and he left it whilst he was on holiday..when he picked it up he drove bout 4 miles away and his wheel came off and has done alot of damage. They went out to him because we knew we had double checked both wheels we took off were perfect..but when we got there out of curiosity we checked all 4 tyres and they were loose aswell so that says to us when it was left at our garage after we had repaired it and the four days later that he picked it up that someone has tried to nick his wheels. Ive spoke to our public liability but they say they cant do anything because we didnt have defective workmanship in with our policy can you give me some advice cause its a small business.thankyou
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
.
Thank you question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
How can I help with this please?
What would you like to know about this?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I would like to know how we stand and what we could do to resolve the situation..as i said our public liabilty doesnt want to help and being a small business we dont have alot of money.how do we stand legally

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
No, the insurance will not cover it if you didn't have that component to your policy. Ultimately his claim is against you I'm afraid.
This will come down really to whether he sues and if he does whether a court accepts that it is possible that something could have happened after leaving your garage that impacted upon the safety of these wheels.
He may not sue. People threaten to sue all the time but they do not always actually take action. You could always make a without prejudice offer to try to settle this.
If you cannot do that and he does sue then you are left with either admitting the claim or defending it. If you say that the wheel was fitted securely when the car left your garage then you do have a defence. Whether it will succeed or not is another matter. If you can satisfy a Judge that all the wheels were insecure then that might topple things over in your favour. You have to be realistic though. This is a fault that developed very shortly after leaving your garage and the presumptions will be against you even if the burden of proof is not.
The only difficulty that I can see immediately is that if he was only able to drive four miles before this happened after collection then there wasn't really an opportunity to do this while the car was not under your control somewhere? If the car was within your garage at the time then you are a bailee of the vehicle and liable actions of third parties. That might just be a misinterpretation from what you have said above though.
Can I clarify anything ?
Jo
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Customer: replied 2 years ago.

We have a sign up to say you leave your vehicle at your own risk and his was left here days after finishing it..does that have any releuvance

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
No. Either the law will imply it or it is void.
If this vehicle was kept on your premises days then you are the bailee and have a duty to take care of it. You could point to the disclaimer that he signed. It might deter him. If it does not and this went to court then it would be subject to a reasonableness test and it would be struck down realistically. The purpose of these disclaimers is to deter people from suing usually and no more.
If the vehicle was left outside on the street though and he knew that then you are not the bailee and are not liable actions of third parties.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Ive just spoken to my partner and it was not left on his proprty cause he didnt have the space but couldnt tell him cause he was on holiday

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Did he warn him of the risk that would happen?
In fairness, mechanics cannot usually keep vehicles on their premises days.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hes not a mechanic..but yes he did tell him he didnt have the room to keep it there my partner only rents a workshop and 2 car parking spaces

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
If he knew that this vehicle was being left in a street then he is not a bailee and not liable actions of third parties.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

So what does that mean partner

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Well, just that my first answer applies.
If he is sued he would have to convince the Judge it is more likely than not that this was caused by the actions of a third party.