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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
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Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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Hi there I owned a car for roughly 3 months, bought from

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Hi there

I owned a car for roughly 3 months, bought from a second hand car dealer in Dec 13 & then sold privately to an individual mid Feb 14. (It was bought to go on a two week holiday, as it was cheaper than renting a car, & then sold because we had no where to park it at our house; we would also not use it much living in London).

I advertised the car on Gumtree, stating it was in good condition, as it had a recent MOT (done 1 week prior) that had no findings or cautions. The car was subsequently bought by a lawyer who drafted a deed of sale agreement for us to sign. This contract required us to disclose all issues that we were aware of, which we duly did & also discussed at the time of viewing. Roughly one month after selling the car the buyer sent me a pre-action letter stating that he intended to take legal action against me as after having the car serviced it required some costly repair work done, mainly to the breaks. He claims I was negligent by saying the car was in good condition as he now alleges it wasn't. I fail to understand why he only serviced the car a month after sale and also don't understand why he didn't contact me at the time of receiving the quote. He thus paid for the repair under his own free will. From what I have read, he should have contacted me prior as he would have had the legal right to ask me to collect the car and refund him the purchase price.

One other note worthy point:

I called the buyer shortly after receiving his pre-action letter via e-mail. I told him that I has shocked by his extreme actions and couldn't understand why he was pursuing legal action when we acted in good faith by disclosing all we knew, provided him with the MOT & all the service history we had. He cut me short but promised to call me back in the evening which he never did. I have encouraged discussion on several occasions in an attempt to resolve the matter amicably yet he is dismissive and insists on e-mail correspondence only.

He has subsequently asked for a formal response letter and I am unsure of my position and feel somewhat threatened by his knowledge of the law.

Please will you give me an idea of the strength of my case and also let me know whether it is possible to speak to an advisor in person.

Thanking you in advance.


Lauren Murphy

Thank you for your question. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will try to help with this.

What would you like to know about this please?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi Jo


I refer to the last paragraph of my question:


'Please will you give me an idea of the strength of my case and also let me know whether it is possible to speak to an advisor in person'.


I would also like to know whether encouraging discussion, although to no prevail, will strengthen my case (as mentioned under note worthy point and already tried)?


How do you feel this situation may pan out?







This is a question and answer site and we can only have contact online. Is that OK?

Also, I'm sorry if I'm missing the point but I don't understand exactly what the dispute is here?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Online contact is okay, but I am now a bit concerned about how long it may take to get an indication of my legal standing.


The issue is simply that the lawyer who bought the car is suing me for negligence. Alleging that I sold a car that I claimed was in a good condition (I based this on its recent clear MOT & previous service history) but when he serviced the car a month after purchase it needed costly repair work done to the breaks. In short, he wants me to pay for this. (The background behind this and the steps already taken is clearly detailed in my initial e-mail).


I don't feel I should be held liable as I did disclose all I knew about the car, so did in deed sell the car in good faith. If he wasn't satisfied with something I feel he should have contacted me immediately after purchase and most certainly before paying the costs of repairs. As far as I am aware at that point he could have legally asked me for a refund but he chose to pay for the repairs without contacting me, loosing his window to take any action.


Please will you give me an indication of how to proceed, as mentioned in my initial e-mail, the buyer is asking me for a formal letter of response to his claim.


Is it now clear to you?





Not quite.

Do you accept that there are faults with the car that you didn't disclose whether you knew about them or not?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

No, I disclosed everything I knew about and could have been expected to know about. I couldn't possibly have known about the breaks as the breaks are checked during a MOT. The MOT was done about a week before selling the car and it came back clear. Furthermore, I don't believe it was necessary to replace the disc pads considering the mechanic who did the MOT didn't feel it was necessary. It is therefore likely that the buyer (who has legal knowledge) simply wanted the luxury of new breaks and is abusing his position and placing me under severe distress.

What are your comments on this?


Thank you.

The issue is not whether you knew about these faults. The issue is whether they existed or not.

He is threatening to sue you for misrepresentation rather than negligence. Under the law of misrepresentation he does not need to prove that you knew that a fault existed. All he needs to prove is that you said something untrue or misleading. A misrepresentation can be innocent.

However, you are right, he should have given you the option to refund his money and return the car and probably now or he will get is the diminution value between the price that the car would have been worse had the faults been known and the price that was paid.

If you deny that these faults existed at all then that is a defence but obviously you run the risk that he will be able to produce evidence to the contrary.

Can I clarify anything for you?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Could you give me an idea of what evidence he may be able to produce?


I provided MOT (my mechanic felt nothing was wrong) and full service history. Would he then provide his mechanics report that presumably says there was something serious wrong? Then standoff between mechanics?


I think he is expecting me to reply to his letter by either accepting, rejecting or making another offer in order to resolve this. In an offer I think I will use this diminution value you refer to. I am not too sure how to calculate this:


- I paid £600 for car 3 months prior to selling it.

- I sold car for £450 (quick sell & little tax left).

- Had another offer to take 'as is' for £400 (felt obligated to follow through with buyer as he contacted me first)

- Scrap value of car +/- £300


Fair offer to him:


1. Difference between two sales prices (£450-£400=£50)

2. Difference between what he paid and scrap value (£450-£300=£150)

3. Zero because the car was sold at a discounted rate (£450-£600=£0)


For argument sake, I make offer not to pay this guy. Do you think it will go to county court? Or is too minor an issue?


To me this is a matter of principle. I am insulted; I really acted in good faith.


Well, evidence from a mechanic probably.

If he sues then it would go to the small claims court and its not really a minor issue. This is a perfectly properly arguable claim and quite a lot of what comes into the small claims court is not.

This is not an issue of whether you acted in good faith but whether what you said was wrong.

The diminution value is the difference between the price he paid for it and the sum that it would have been worth if the fault had been known.

The only way he could realistically claim the repair price is to argue that you are a commercial seller and so liable under the sale of goods act but that doesn't seem to be the case here
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Should the claim go to small claims court (and I think it will), will he only be able to sue me for the diminution value? Or can he include costs such as legal fees, court fees, travel costs, his time etc? This is something he threatens in his pre-action letter.


Counter suits


He also wants to sue me for the cost of him taking his driving licence test and sent me his certificate as proof. The weird thing is that he took the test a month after buying the car and just 2 or 3 days before taking the car to the mechanic. Now, he never told us he didn't have a licence when he took the car for a test drive. Is that not negligence? He also mislead us during negotiations while selling the car. He asked us to travel to him (several miles away) to deliver the car because he didn't yet have insurance. Yet, now that we know about the driving test, it was clear that he didn't have insurance because he didnt have a licence. Are either of these grounds to counter sue?

No, he will get costs but they will be a very low amount at the small claims court.

He hasn't got a claim for the cost of taking his driving test. I would love to know on what basis he thinks he has.

Its not negligence that he took the car for a test drive unlicenced. Its driving without a licence and indeed insurance but that doesn't help you because you have committed an offence too in failing to check his insurance certificate.

No, you don't have grounds to counter sue.

Im happy to continue with this but please remember to leave feedback for my answer.
Jo C. and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

He thinks he has grounds for claiming because when I asked him why he didn't contact me at time of quote but rather after paying for repairs he said that he had already spent so much money on the car (insurance, tax & drivers licence), he couldn't walk away from the transaction. To me this is ridiculous because the drivers licence he would need in any event, and the insurance as well as tax is largely refundable if cancelled.


Is there an argument for not paying anything because he didn't contact me before paying the repair costs?

Yes, it is ridiculous. I wouldn't worry about that.

If misrepresentation is found against you then he was not under a duty to contact you before remedying the faults I'm afraid.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Does intention play a role misrepresentation?


This clause was initially in the Deed of Sale but subsequently removed (reason disclosed in markup comment).


'The Buyer will arrange for the car to be checked in a garage on or before the 1st of May 2014. Should that check reveal hidden failures and should repair of those failures cost more than two hundred pounds sterling (£200.00) exclusive of VAT the Seller will indemnify the Buyer for any excess sum'.


Mark Up Comment:


Lauren Murphy: We propose that this clause be removed entirely from the contract. We have another prospective buyer that is prepared to buy the car as is for £400. It is in good faith that we are selling the car and do not feel we should have to carry any financial burden associated with repair. As the clause currently stands we may even incur a financial loss on the transaction.



Does this not imply that the car was effectively sold 'as is'? The Buyer (who is a lawyer) agreed to remove this because of that mark up comment that states 'another buyer was going to take it 'as is').


Does this not mean that there wasn't misrepresentation?

1 No, as I said earlier.

2 Whether a car is sold 'as is' or not is not a defence.

3 No.