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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 50165
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor
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I need advice after my car was damaged by a Volkswagen main

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I need advice after my car was damaged by a Volkswagen main dealer, but they are not accepting liability.
I took my car in for some servicing work, and when I went to pick it up there was a scrape along the side of the car. I reported it to the manager before driving away.
There is a condition report which was done after I dropped off the car (without me present) and it shows that there was NO damage. It is signed by one of their staff.
I asked the service manager to photocopy it for me, and also to write down a description of the damage and sign the copy, which he did.
So I have the report showing there was NO damage when I gave them the car, and there WAS damage when I collected it. But somehow they are claiming that they don't accept liability.
The dealership is owned by ***** *****. I want to take the car to a neutral (not ***** *****) garage for the damage to be repaired, because I had a terrible experience with them - the damage is one of many things they did wrong.
They said I can bring the car back and as a goodwill gesture they will polish it for me - but the damage is too deep to be polished out, and I don't want them touching my car again.
I have put everything in writing to them, and they told me the offer to polish the damage is their final decision.
What should I do?
If I get an estimate from a neutral garage, what are my chances of winning at small claims court, considering I have the condition report and a signed statement by the manager stating that he saw the damage? And would I be able to add anything for the inconvenience and time?
Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. How much do you think the damage may be?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

At a guess, between £100 and £500.

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Just to add... I can't prove that their staff caused the damage, because for all I know it could have been another customer using their car park. But the car was with them when it happened, so is that enough to prove that they're liable?

Did you sign a disclaimer where they limited their liability for any damage caused to the car whilst in their possession?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Not that I know of... I think I only signed paperwork regarding the courtesy car that I got.

But it was a few weeks ago and I can't remember if I signed anything else when dropping off the car.

Sorry have been rushing in and out of meetings. First of all you need to check any documentation you signed with them to see if they had limited their liability for damage in anyway. It is possible for them to do this by contract and the only thing they cannot limit is liability for death or personal injury. However, damage to property is something which can be limited with a disclaimer so check the written documentation to see if there is something like that which could affect your rights here. If no such disclaimer existed then you could potentially take the matter further if you can show that their negligence was what caused the damage. If for example they had left the car somewhere but an unknown third party had caused the damage, it would not be their negligence that caused it, even if it was in their possession at the time. So you would need to prove that it was their negligence that caused it, such as one of their drivers driving into something which caused the scratch. You could still try and go through the motions of preparing for a potential claim and send the relevant letters, hoping that they try and resolve this in order to avoid going to court. You could even go as far as making the claim but remember that if you proceed with it then it would be down to you to show that the garage was negligent and that it is their negligence which caused the damage in question. This is your basic legal position. I have more detailed advice for you in terms of the steps you need to follow should you decide to start preparing for court, 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, leaving a rating will not close the question and we can continue this discussion. Thank you
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Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thank you for that.

The only paperwork that I got from them is the invoice for the work and a photocopy of the condition report with the manager's note/signature on it.

How would I find out if there was anything else - just ask them to send me a copy of anything I signed?

And is there any way to prove their negligence? I suppose I could ask for CCTV footage using a FOI request, but I don't fancy investing that much time into something that could potentially be repaired for £100.

Yes you can ask them to send any other documents they hold about you - they should disclose these to you. And yes it could be CCTV footage (note that the FOI would not apply as that only applies to public bodies, not private companies) but they could refuse to disclose that and they have the right to do so unless forced to disclose it by the police or the courts. Or it could be evidence by people working there but gain you may find it difficult to get them to testify against their employer In terms of the nest steps, should you choose to follow them, you can treat the repair amount as a debt. Whenever a dispute arises over money owed by one party to another, the debtor can be pursued through the civil courts for recovery of the debt. As legal action should always be seen as a last resort, there are certain actions that should be taken initially to try and resolve this matter informally and without having to involve the courts. It is recommended that the process follows these steps: 1. Reminder letter – if no reminders have been sent yet, one should be sent first to allow the debtor to voluntarily pay what is due. 2. Letter before action – if informal reminders have been sent but these have been ignored, the debtor must be sent a formal letter asking them to repay the debt, or at least make arrangements for its repayment, within a specified period of time. A reasonable period to demand a response by would be 10 days. They should be advised that if they fail to do contact you in order to resolve this matter, formal legal proceedings will be commenced to recover the debt. This letter serves as a ‘final warning’ and gives the other side the opportunity to resolve this matter without the need for legal action. 3. If they fail to pay or at least make contact to try and resolve this, formal legal proceedings can be initiated. A claim can be commenced online by going to Once the claim form is completed it will be sent to the debtor and they will have a limited time to defend it. If they are aware legal proceedings have commenced it could also prompt them to reconsider their position and perhaps force them to contact you to try and resolve this. Whatever correspondence is sent, it is always advisable to keep copies and use recorded delivery so that there is proof of delivery and a paper trail. The court may need to refer to these if it gets that far.