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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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, Below are the details of a situation that is currently

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Below are the details of a situation that is currently trying to be resolved.
A client has stored a classic car with us for many years.
In September 2010, he stopped paying storage charges.
Due to no action that we had taken, part of the roof of the building fell on the vehicle in December 2010, causing damage to the front and rear screens.
At this time, as a gesture of good will, we provided the client with free storage for a period of time.
Our terms and conditions of storage state that if the damage was not caused directly by ourselves then we would not be responsible for the said repairs.
In May 2012 we contacted the owner saying that the free period of storage had ended, and started to invoice for the storage of it in the normal manner.
No further payments were ever received.
The client claimed in a telephone call that the invoices had not been received, several months later.
After a further passage of time, during an attempt to resolve the situation, the client admitted that he actually had received the invoices via email. He had ignored them.
After a lengthy exchange, the client claimed he had taken legal advice, and stated that we had a duty of care, and as such were responsible for the repairs.
We referred him to our terms and conditions, and have reminded him of the need to settle the account and remove the vehicle from our premises.
The last communication was now around 6 months ago, and it now appears the car has been abandoned.
We have written to the client again, with a final attempt to resolve the situation, offering a substantial discount of the outstanding storage charges, and then remove the car.
We have stated that we will sell the car if he does not come forward and pay for and remove it within 28 days, and have placed an advert on Ebay stating this.
We have emailed and sent a letter (tracked and signed for) informing the client of our intentions. The letter has been signed for, but not by the client and the email has not bounced back.
If the 28 day period expires, with no response from the client, then can we legally dispose of the vehicle, to end the situation?
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
What is the value of the vehicle roughly please?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.


We think approx. £1000 maximum.


Thanks for the information.
I do completely see your position and I don’t blame you for not wanting to have these goods on your property.
This is an issue of the law of abandonment of goods. As a general rule you are under a duty to take reasonable care of the property of others if its left in your care. However, there are obviously limits to that.
Abandonment is very badly defined in law. Goods are generally abandoned if they have been left for a period of time that is not ‘reasonable’. What is reasonable depends on the facts of the case - in particular the value of the item either financial or emotional but also the inconvenience to you. A small item would be easier to store and so you would be required to keep it longer than a bulky one which clogs up your space.
Overall, this is a relatively low value vehicle and it is taking up space. You can only do what is reasonable. If he is refusing to engage with you then thats his problem. You have sent him warning and if he ignores you then you do have the basis of abandonment argument. Nobody can guarantee it\s sudcess obviously.
Of course, it is likely that he will turn up at some point and start making threats about this. Then you will have to defend any action that he brings on the basis that the goods were abandoned.
Hope this helps. Please let me know if you need more information.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thanks for the advice. If we applied for the V5c before disposing of the vehicle, then the DVLA would write to him, or the address they have for him before issuing any documents.

Assuming the DVLA send a V5c to us, do you think that this would add extra 'weight' to the abandoned case should we ever have to defend it?


Yes, take every step that you reasonably can.
I find generally with abandonment cases you need to stamp out any possibility for the original owner to say you could have done more.
Jo C. and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi Jo,

The owner of the vehicle has been in touch, saying that if we dispose of the vehicle he will pursue a claim against us for the same make and model of vehicle.

Further more, he is claiming that we offered him 'free indefinite storage' on the car due to the damage, which was not the case. In any case we wrote to him saying that the storage would be on a paid basis, which was never challenged until now, when the situation had been 'pushed'.

He says that he will remove the car, when he has the parts to repair and obtain a new MOT, at a time 'when he sees fit'.

This in all honesty, was not what I was expecting.

Our terms and conditions state that we can give 3 months notice to any customer to remove their vehicle from our premises.

I feel that even if we did that and just cut our losses. he still would not remove it.

The other option is to take it through the courts and let a judge decide.

What are your views?


It is exactly what I would have expected.
Has he got any evidence that you offered free indefinite storage? Why you would want to do that anyway I don't know.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.


No, he does not have evidence that we gave indefinate free storage - we woudn't do this. I have kept copies of all communication since day 1.


It is the sort of twaddle that people always come out with.
It is very unlikely that a court would accept that you offered free storage for time immemoral to a person you barely know.
Just stick to your guns and if he sues defend it.