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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
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I asked the owner of a motorcycle shop to sell my motorcycle

Customer Question

I asked the owner of a motorcycle shop to sell my motorcycle for me on a commission basis. He has since gone bankrupt. Who now owns my bike?
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 11 months ago.

Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and I will be assisting you with your question today. Has the bike been sold?Also by commission basis you mean he was to take a percentage of the sale price?

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 11 months ago.

Thanks do you mind keeping the replies to this one box only please instead of starting a new question? So you have not received any money from him yet?

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
No I haven't received any money. Just this email
Without PrejudiceDear Dorrien
Firstly can I apologise for the delay in getting back to you. It was with a heavy heart and after much deliberation that I was forced to close the business, AP Motorcycles Limited, based at Unit 8, Cillefwr Industrial Estate, Johnstown, SA31 3RB. Unfortunately, the business could not sustain the losses that were made particularly during the winter months. My accountant has finalised the closure of the business and I have had time to consider the outstanding liabilities that the business sustained. With that in mind, the business is in a position to make an offer to you which I hope you will consider rather than go through any potential costly court proceedings. The offer we are prepared to make is £600 in full and final settlement. I hope you will accept this offer in the spirit that it is made and I look forward to hearing from you.Kind RegardsAndrew Park
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
The motorcycle is worth 3000 pounds.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 11 months ago.

Hi there, the bike would belong to you until it has been sold and you have been paid what you were due. Then ownership would have transferred to the purchaser. In the meantime you would have retained ownership so the shop would have only been acting as your agent, i.e. they would have agreed to sell the bike on your behalf but they would not have actually take over legal ownership of it. So now that they are trying to offer you a settlement figure for a proportion of its value, they should really either be returning the bike to you or refund you for the full amount. Just because they have ceased trading does not mean that they could have taken your property as part of their assets and sold it off to clear their debts. The bike was never theirs for them to do so and as such you would be entitled to take this further if needed. The issue is that if you were pursuing an insolvent business it may be difficult to get the full amount back because they may no longer have any money or assets to reimburse you. Therefore, there will be certain risks if you decide to do so and as such must be careful about how you proceed.

This is your basic legal position. I have more detailed advice for you in terms of the steps you can follow if you decide to take this further, which I wish to discuss so please take a second to leave a positive rating for the service so far (by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars) and I can continue with that and answer any further questions you may have. Don’t worry, there is no extra cost and leaving a rating will not close the question and we can continue this discussion. Thank you

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Customer: replied 11 months ago.
How should I proceed from here? Do I report the bike as stolen?
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 11 months ago.

It is unlikely that the police would see this as a criminal matter. Of course there is nothing stopping you from reporting this to them but just be prepared for that response. The likelihood is that you would be seeking to pursue the company for the value of the bike, but the issue here is if they have become insolvent they may not be able to satisfy their debts which means that for every pound they owe you, you may only get a proportion of that, depending on what assets or money they have available. So it I a trick one – you just do not know what they have available and if it is worth pursuing it further in the hope of getting more or settling for the offer already made – there will always be a risk in these circumstances. The official position s that you can issue a claim against them but you could end up spending more money and getting even less than what is on offer.

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Let me swing this by you. If I report the bike as stolen, might I be able to recover it from whomever has it now?
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 11 months ago.

potentially yes, but there are all sorts of caveats - I suggest you read this as it explains it in a lot more detail:

http://www.netlawman.co.uk/ia/selling-goods-non-owner

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
The guy just emailed me.I can confirm that your motorcycle was sold by the business a short time before we were forced to close. The funds received were absorbed by the plight of the business and we were unable to pay any outstanding liabilities. After the reconciliation, the offer I put to you was the very best I could do under very difficult circumstances. As I stated previously, this offer is made without prejudice.
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
I wonder if by reporting it as stolen I could inform the DVLA in Swansea and get some sort of administrative restriction put on the bike so that it couldn't be registered. I don't know. I feel like I've "been had" and I'm clutching at straws here.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 11 months ago.

Ok it is unlikely you can treat it as stolen – they did have the authority to sell it and did so. This is now a civil dispute for money owed as a result of the sale. As mentioned there are big risks with pursuing an insolvent company for unsecured debts like this one because you could easily end up with nothing or just a few pence to every pound owed. I many circumstances you are better off taking the offer because it is at least guaranteed payment for part of what you are owed and rejecting it could mean you could walk away with nothing.