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JGM, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 12173
Experience:  30 years as a practising solicitor.
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In October 2013 I sold a converted trawler (fishing boat) to

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In October 2013 I sold a converted trawler (fishing boat) to a gentleman in England. I am based in Oban in Scotland. I sold the vessel for £7500, however the sum I received was £6000. On the day the vessel was to be handed over the gentleman turned up and gave me a story about how he would pay the balance the following week. I have had one or two breaks in my life so I thought I'd do the same for him by allowing/trusting him to pay me the following week.
He took the boat and from all accounts, judging by the press, he had a disastrous trip south having been rescued a few times by lifeboat.
The gentleman wouldn't answer any of my calls and I mistakenly left his details in the wheelhouse of the boat on the day he departed. He does not have a "bill of sale" for the vessel as I would have had to have one notarised and it was a Saturday. I intended to do this the following week when the balance was paid to me. I do not have his home address.
I travelled to the Blackpool area as this was where the vessel has been last reported and spent two days looking for her with no luck.
I put the whole debacle behind me and assumed I'd never see or hear from the guy again. But! Out of the blue about a month ago I received a phone call from an elderly gentleman who had found her in the Freeport of Fleetwood. She had ended up there slightly dishevelled looking and no one locally seemed to know who brought her there as it was late in the night when she arrived.
The gentleman (Frank) who phoned me after contacting a local marina here in Oban. Had found my details on line as the boat had been advertised on several websites and the information had yet to be taken down. He also did his homework and rang the local marina where I kept the boat here in Oban so he was aware of the situation of the boat being taken without being fully paid for.
Frank offered to act as my factor and secured to boat in the harbour where she was. He also had to carry out repairs in order to keep the vessel seaworthy. The locks were replaced and the vessel was covered in "do not remove and contact these numbers" posters. This was almost three months ago and the guy who originally paid the £6000 to me has not been near the boat since.
Frank has offered to sell the vessel for me and he is also due some money for the work carried out on immediate repairs. Between us I have come to a figure of around three thousand pounds in work carried out, my expenses travelling around looking for her and also Franks time and effort securing the vessel.
I have sent at least twenty emails to the gentleman who paid the six thousand threatening all sorts from impounding the vessel to selling the vessel to cover my increasing expenses. I have also tried ringing him on at least another twenty or thirty occasions and Frank has also phone him many times as well. But the guy hasn't been near the boat or in any contact with anyone for coming on for three months now.
What can I do? Am I allowed to resell the boat and keep the money that Gary (the original buyer who owes me £1500) has given me in an account to return to him should he ever surface? What do I do about the ongoing expenses the vessel is incurring?
Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Many thanks
Thank you for your question.

The legal position is that the boat was sold and the buyer still owes you £1500. You have repossessed the boat via your agent and now wish to sell it. Your argument for doing so is that the buyer is in breach of contract.

You should write to the buyer again, saying that you intend to have the boat sold to recoup your £1500 and expenses and that any balance left over will be refunded to him.

Happy to discuss further.

Please leave a positive response so that I am credited for my time.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Thank you for the response, my biggest problem is that I have no contact details for the buyer other than an email and mobile phone number. Both of which he does not respond to.
should I send him an email to the effect that the boat is being resold and hope he gets it or is there some other way I can try and find a way to let him know? Obviously with as little expense as possible to me!
I'm finding it hard to believe that somebody could give me £6000 and then disappear leaving the boat abandoned.
I also take it that it's ok for me to keep the vessel in a seaworthy condition and secure? As you may know boats can get damaged very easily and he has abandoned her in a pretty much derelict harbour.
Thank you in advance and hopefully this will be the end of the matter.
Kindest regards
If the email doesn't bounce back to you all you can do is assume that it has been delivered. It is a very strange situation but I think you are doing the right thing.
JGM and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Hey there, I have written to the guy again via email and I stated that he has broken the contract of sale as you said. I also said that any monies from the sale that were left over after expenses etc would be 'ring fenced' for him and. Should he get in contact then his money will be waiting for him along with a detailed schedule of monies spent by me having to recover, search and make the vessel secure and seaworthy again.
I will put the money in a separate account and will wait for his reply. How long should I wait, holding onto the money? Is there anything else I can do in order to find the guy?
I have two concerns, one is that is the guy ok? Has he died or left the country. Is he perhaps in prison?
The second is that he has abandoned the vessel, having not been near it in over three months. Is this a reasonable amount of time for me to take the boat back and resell, ring fence and sit on the money made?
I think that should be my last questions on the matter.
Thank you again for your advice, it is much appreciated.
You would have to hold the money for five years.

You could try tracing him via an investigation agency.

Assuming the boat is still registered to you, you are technically responsible for it. You do, in my opinion have a right to deal with it.