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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71153
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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I bought a used car from a private seller thrrough an agent.

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I bought a used car from a private seller thrrough an agent. the car does not match its description. What law can I quote that protects me?
In what way does it not match its description?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.



Missing feature costing £800+

Missing periods of service history where description said "history: yes" in an ebay classified ad.

claim no expense spared on maintenance etc. yet problems in many mechanical and body areas were done cheaply.

The seller used an agent., not me.

I collected the car after payment in full but before inspection of wither car or service and maintenance paperwork.

Missing description: some serious hidden faults that under ebay rules and practise should have been revealed, and botched repair to these areas conflict with "no expense spared "claim


Whats the missing feature?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

parking sensors the car is a Lexus 4WD RX300.

There may be other features missing too

But this missing feature is of lesser importance than the service history. For example the car has been used in the sea and forest tracks, and is badly rusted underneath with bad exhaust suystem that could cost up to £1900 to replace; other faults due to bad maintenance history include brakes: parking brake cables alone quoted at over £600. Effectively the cost of restoring to "as described" state is greater than the purchase price of £5000.

Seller/owner -whom never met- claims entered the ad on ebay but it was most likely the agent, Agent says the missing feature fault was caused by EBay software which populated the features boxes when the reg # XXXXX input. Seller id is same as name of agent's live-in partner.

Agent received deposit into his bank account and balance went by banker's draft to owner on collection.


I would like to knopw whether use of agent in selling brings thiis transaction under the Distance Selling Regs. And specifically a precedent if possible. Seller's solicitor says Sale of goods act is not valid in this case. But other consumer advice sites (CAB/Which) say all distance selling must comform with description. But they do not quote the specific law reference.


Does ths info give enough background?


Yes, but its not really what I need to know. I just need to narrow this down into relevant facts really.

Was there any service history? I presume its had some services? just yes or no is fine
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

some but incomplete and none in last 4 years

The solicitor is right. The Sale of Goods Act does not apply as this is a private sale. The DSR does not apply as the rules of auctions apply to Ebay.

The general law of contract does demand that goods are as described but its not that simple. The CAB isn't really a reliable source of legal advice Im afraid.

Essentially you are trying to raise a misrepresentation point which applies to private sales.

To argue misrepresentation you need to show that something either untrue or misleading was said at the time of sale and its a high test.

Answering 'yes' to the question of service history is not a misrepresentation here realistically. This is not a case where there is no service history. There are services.

Similarly 'no expense spared' is a subjective term over which there can be argument and they generally do not amount to misrepresentation.

What might amount to a misrepresentation are the missing features. If these are things like parking sensors though then a court might reflect that in terms of a money order rather than rescission of the contract. It would depend on the price that was paid for this item and the nature of the misrepresentation. Generally speaking, the remedy for misrepresentation is rescission of the contract, return of the goods and a full remedy. Sometimes the court will depart from that in favour of a money order for the difference between the price the vehicle would have been if it had been accurately described and the price that was paid. Largely though thats where the dispute is very minor or the item has been kept for a long time.

I'm sorry this isn't the answer you wanted but it is the position that you face and I have a duty to inform you truthfully.

Hope this helps. Please remember to rate my service either OK SERVICE or above and then I will give you related information for free.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

this was not an auction. it was classified ad. the sale was completed outside ebay. but the purchase relied on the info in the ebay ad.

It still isn't covered by the DSR.

To bring it within the DSR you have to show that the seller routinely sells by distance and a private seller does not.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Thanks for your replies. They are very helpful. But is there any law or process that would enforce this type of deal of private seller to private buyer? And what claim if anything, might I have against the agent?


1 Like I said, misrepresentation is the only argument.

2 You can bring that against the agents. Even if he made the comments innocently, if they are untrue or misleading then there is a misrep argument.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Thank you again. I had not properly understood your para on misrepresentation.

What is my next step? Can I first make a detailed case on the misrepresented facts including the hidden items such as by supplying photos?


Do I need a lawyer to start the process or to represent me, and what might the cost of such if no satisfactory agreement might be reached.


Would your service extend to drafting a reply for example?


Are you jomo1972? is that an id that wd find you again?


This is my first use of this type of quick advice, what do you mean above, by: "and then I will give you related information for free?"


I rate your advice excellent.


How much did you pay for the car?

Are you content with the difference between the sum you would have paid and the sum you did or do you want recession of the contract?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

I paid £5000.

The cost of passing next MOT might be £3000 due to damaged underbody and exhaust.

If I could reverse the sale by winning an argument with the solicitor (rather than going to court) that would be my target to avoid the hassle of endless garage bills.

As a worst case to keep the car I could accept payment for the missing main feature (sensors - because I have a neck problem, an 79 years old, and cannot turn around in order to reverse safely), plus an additional sum for repairs - say £2.5k minimum. That might be a tall order for the seller(s) to stomach.


Thats not possible I'm afraid. It doesn't work like that. However brilliantly you argue, he is not going to agree with you. Life isn't like that.

If its £5000 then you are right at the boundary of the small claims court. Unfortunately when costs and interest are added you would be allocated to the fast track which would mean that actual costs are expensive.

You can ask that the matter be heard at the small claims court although the other side would have to consent to that.

You cannot claim the sum of repairs.

You have a claim either for recession of the contract and the return of the car - although that would be a high test to reach. Or the difference between the sum you paid and the sum it would have been worth if the car had been accurately described.
Jo C. and 2 other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

A final query Remus

Would it be possible to 'chase' separately the agent for misrepresentation, and what would be the basis of a monetary settlement? Unrecovered loss from seller?

If the agent sold the car to you then your claim is against him.

As I said above, the money settlement would be the difference between the price you paid and the rough price the car would have been worth if it had been accurately described.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Do you mean nothing would be recoverable from the seller/owner who employed the agent?

Or from the Ebay "seller" who according to the ebay item "assumes all responsibility for this listing"?

Or a combination?


Seller's solicitor says he employed an agent; the agent emailed to say he was a friend and not an agent.


Unless the seller himself made the misrepresentation to you there is no claim against him.

Whatever the other person was, if he made an untrue statement there's a misrep argument.