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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
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We are a small civils company working in the Highways

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We are a small civils company working in the Highways Industry. Over the last 2.5 years we have purchased two Vacuum Excavators from a company to assist us with Excavation. These machines were a ideal as they are small and fit into our needs when excavating in areas that have other services such as electric cables and water and gas pipes.
We have had one machine since early 2014 and it was the first one off the production line from this particular Company we were so impressed that we ordered another one however that was when we started having problems with it breaking down. Several times the machine was sent back to the manufacture only for it to break down again.
During this time there was a death in our Industry with someone using a vacuum excavator.(Not on Our site) But within the Industry this had the effect of drying up all work. So the machine was stood for a few months! During this time we recieved the other machine and they were both standing for a few months.
Recently we have been approached with some work for the machines so we put them to work and guess what they have both broken down within hours of them starting work!
We have had enough and would like to know what our rights are with regards ***** ***** all or some of our money back. We paid around £200k for the machines.
Please help.

Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and I will be assisting you with your question today.

Were these new when you bought them?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
both Brand new.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
At the moment I need a little help just understanding my rights. I have not approached the Manufacturer yet but did not want to discuss with him untill I have a little understanding of my rights!

OK thank you, ***** ***** it with me. I am in court for the rest of today so will prepare my advice in a while and get back to you at the earliest opportunity. There is no need to wait here as you will receive an email when I have responded. Thank you.

Many thanks for your patience. As this was a business to business sale and it was made before 1 October 2015, it would be the Sale of Goods Act 1979 that would apply.

The law states that the goods must be of satisfactory quality, as described and fit for purpose. If they are not, you will have certain legal remedies against the seller. There is no protection against fair wear and tear, misuse or accidental damage, faults that were pointed out at the time of sale or if you change your mind and no longer want the goods.

One key point is that this protection usually only applies to consumers, i.e. a private buyer. It does also apply to business buyers but only if the sales contract had not sought to disapply the protection under the SGA. So if your sales contract said that the rights under the SGA do not apply, then you cannot rely on the protection under it. In that case you would only be able to pursue them under a warranty that may have been in place, or under a breach of contract matter.

If the SGA applies and if the goods are not as described, of satisfactory quality or fit for purpose, you have the following rights:

1. Reject the goods and request a refund - this is only possible if the rejection occurs within a 'reasonable time'. This period depends on the circumstances, although it is generally accepted to be within the first month after purchase, so too late for that here.

2. Ask for a repair or replacement – if you are too late to reject the goods, you can ask the seller for a repair or replacement without causing any significant inconvenience.

As you are too late to reject the goods, you can still try and resolve this by contacting the seller and asking them for a repair or replacement. You can quote the applicable laws and rules as mentioned above. If they appear reluctant to assist, write to them one more time, warn them that they have 7 days to comply and inform them that if they fail to meet their legal obligations, you will have no choice but to start legal proceedings to seek compensation for your losses.

This is your basic legal position. I have more detailed advice for you in terms of the options you have on taking this further, 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 2 other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks for this Ben. We have had the first machine sent back for repairs on the same fault several times and know for the second machine. We have coerrespondence dating back to 2014 in which they have indicated that they have resolved the issue but within a certain time the machines break down with the same problem!
We are under the inpression that the Machines are not fit for purpose. However this is why we are seeking the advice.
It is also starting to Damage our reputation as we cannot fufill Contracts.

Thank you. What you would be doing is seeking compensation but it is important to check if the SGA still applies to your purchase.

If you have to take it further, then 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.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks Ben You have been most helpfull. We are going to start drafting a letter to the company.

you are welcome and best of luck