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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 50177
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor
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I recently purchased a car from a private seller for £34k.

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I recently purchased a car from a private seller for £34k. The seller sold the car with a full service history, but I have subsequently found that the second to last service carried out while in the sellers ownership was in fact a forgery. The seller is refusing to answer my calls, emails or texts.
Do I have any chance of taking legal action?

Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today.

Please can you confirm how long ago you bought the car?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi Ben,I purchased it on the 22/02/16. I am a trader and source most of my vehicles privately. I have subsequently sold the car but the purchaser insisted I pay Porsche for a full service when he discovered the second to last service had been forged by the owner. I can be sure the seller forged the service history as he had a service carried out at Porsche prior to selling the vehicle to me, so the forged service was the service prior to this one.

OK, thank you for your response. I will review the relevant information and laws and will get back to you as soon as I can. Please do not respond to this message as it will just push your question to the back of the queue and you may experience unnecessary delays. Thank you

Many thanks for your patience. When a person buys a second-hand vehicle from a private seller, their rights will be somewhat limited and will not be as extensive as if they had bought it from a dealer.

In general, there is no legal requirement for the vehicle to be of satisfactory quality or fit for purpose. Therefore, the buyer will only have rights in the following situations:

· If the vehicle did not match the description given, whether in the advert or any subsequent discussions. This would amount to breach of contract or misrepresentation

· If the seller broke a specific contractual term – e.g. if they fail to do something they specifically agreed to, for example, fix certain faults or provide an MOT. This is also going to be a breach of contract

· If the seller was actually a dealer posing as a private seller - this is an unfair commercial practice and can even be a criminal offence

· If the vehicle is unroadworthy – this occurs if its brakes, tyres, steering or construction make it unfit for the road. This will also be a criminal offence.

In this case you can argue that there was a breach of contract because the vehicle was not as described and the documentation provided with it was forged. However, what you can claim for will generally be limited to the difference the missing documentation has had on the value of the car. So if one service was missing it would obviously slightly reduce the value but that would be the only thing you can claim for in the circumstances.

In the first instance, any issues with the vehicle should be resolved directly with the seller. You can also use threats of legal action as a negotiating tool, although if that does not help then your only option is to actually make a claim.

This is your basic legal position. I have more detailed advice for you in terms of the steps you need to follow in order to take this down the formal legal route, 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, there is no extra cost and leaving a rating will not close the question and we can continue this discussion. Thank you

Ben Jones and 3 other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi Ben,Thanks for your reply,The seller will not answer any calls, emails or texts so I presume they are just hoping this will go away.
I would like to send a Solicitors letter setting out my position and asking for the £800 I am out of pocket, in the hope that the seller sees £800 as a small price to pay given the potential costs of legal action and any costs I may be able to recover given the fact that it should be straightforward to prove he forged the history.
What would be the cost to send a letter? If I do not receive an answer from the seller I am most likely going to forget it and put it down to experience.I would appreciate your thoughts on this approach?Regards

Thank you. A solicitor's letter could vary perhaps from £30 to £100, although you may be charged fr the initial advice to discuss your situation. You really need to shop around locally to see what is on offer. Sadly I cannot send one for you as I can only assist you online via this site. But you may even consider going as far as issuing a claim - for £800 that will cost £60 and it could be the last thing you do to make your position clear the if there is still no response you could consider dropping it if you do not want to waste further time and money.

As to the legal steps to follow, whenever a dispute arises over compensation owed by one party to another, the party at fault can be pursued through the civil courts. 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 party at fault to voluntarily settle this matter.

2. Letter before action – if informal reminders have been sent but these have been ignored, the party at fault must be sent a formal letter asking them to resolve this amicably 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 pursue the compensation due. 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 other side 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.