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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71324
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor
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My stepson bought a car in January 2020. I paid for the car

Customer Question

My stepson bought a car in January 2020. I paid for the car as he didn't have any money. His girlfriend organised the sale. I asked for the log book. She has never given it to me. My stepson and the girlfriend have now split up. It is not an amicable split. She refuses to give us or him the logbook until he repays £10000 which she says he owes her.
JA: What steps have been taken? Have any papers been filed in family court?
Customer: No I have offered the girlfriend a part payment followed by setting up a direct debit from my stepson's account but she will not accdept this
JA: Have they talked to a lawyer about this yet?
Customer: No
JA: Anything else you want the Lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: At the moment my stepson is living in a hotel. He is under lockdown (eased today). He suffers from mental health issues. The girlfriend knows that being without his car will cause him great distress.
Submitted: 15 days ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 15 days ago.

Hello, I’m Ben. It’s my pleasure to assist you today. I may also ask for some preliminary information to help me determine the legal position.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 15 days ago.

Hi there. Can I just check, is the car registered in your stepson's name? Is he the registered keeper?

Customer: replied 15 days ago.
Sure
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 15 days ago.

Thank you. Can I just check, is the car registered in your stepson's name? Is he the registered keeper?

Customer: replied 15 days ago.
The car is registered in the girlfriend's name
Customer: replied 15 days ago.
My stepson (Calum) got the car in Januray 2020. Myself and my wife were on holiday - we had just arrived in the USA. We got a call to say that he had written off his old car and needed a new one for work.
Customer: replied 15 days ago.
When we returned from the USA the girlfriend (Catalina) asked us to pay for the car. Calum never has any money. We gave her over £5000 on condition that the car was his. We asked repeatedly for the logbook but she never gave it to us.
Customer: replied 15 days ago.
Recently the insurance came up for renewal and what I didn't realise is that she had put the insurance in her name. When he got the car they asked us for the insurance details that that they could transfer the insurance from his old car to the new one.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 15 days ago.

OK I understand and thank you for providing this information. Please do not worry and leave it with me for now; I will get back to you with my answer as soon as I can, which will be at some point today. The system will notify you when this happens. Please do not reply in the meantime as this may unnecessarily delay my response. Many thanks.

Customer: replied 15 days ago.
At the moment the car is on SORN and on our drive.
Customer: replied 15 days ago.
I have offered to pay about £2000 / £3000 as part payment for the debts that she says Calum owes and then set up a direct debit from his account to drip feed the rest over time. She will not accept this so we've reached a kind of stalemate.
Customer: replied 15 days ago.
I have been in touch with the police. They said it was a civil matter and referred me to CAB.
Customer: replied 15 days ago.
Calum suffers from mental health problems. I look after all his finances.
Customer: replied 15 days ago.
Hi Ben. Are we still connected?
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 15 days ago.

Many thanks for your patience, I am pleased to be able to continue assisting with your query now. First of all, I am sorry to hear about the issues you have experienced in your situation.

If the car was never registered in his name then he cannot get a replacement logbook from the DVLA as only she will be able to do this. The registered keeper must have been changed to being him to allow him to get a replacement logbook.

If the car was always agreed to be his but she is not willing to provide the logbook, then you may have to pursue her for the losses incurred from this, which are basically the value of the car, to allow him to get a replacement vehicle, without her involvement. She would then keep this one.

Whilst it is entirely possible to make a claim against her in the Small Claims Court, the main issue is whether she can also make a counterclaim for the money he supposedly owes her. That could mean he gets nothing from her but just reduces the amount he owes her already. It all depends on whether she can prove what he owes her and it was genuinely intended as a loan, rather than a gift.

To take it further, if a party wishes to pursue another for financial compensation arising out of a dispute between them, they can potentially do so by making a court claim. However, as legal action should only be used as a last resort, there are certain steps that should be taken initially to try and resolve this matter informally and without the need to involve the courts. It is therefore recommended that the following steps are taken in order to try and resolve this:

1. Reminder letter – if no informal reminders have been sent yet, one should be sent first to allow the other party to voluntarily settle this matter.

2. Letter before action – if informal reminders have been sent but have been ignored, the other party must be sent a formal ‘letter before action’ asking them to resolve this amicably within a specified period of time – 14 days is reasonable. They should be advised that if they fail to make contact to resolve this matter, formal legal proceedings will be commenced to pursue them for compensation. This letter serves as a ‘final warning’ and gives the other side the opportunity to resolve this without the need for legal action. There are numerous templates available online for such letters and a simple search will bring up a list of useful results.

3. If the letter before action is also ignored, formal legal proceedings can be initiated. A claim can be commenced online by going to https://www.moneyclaim.gov.uk/web/mcol/welcome. There will be a fee payable, which depends on the amount that is claimed. The other side will eventually get a copy of the claim and they will have a limited time to answer it. They could accept it and pay what is owed, they could accept it only in part and defend the rest, or they could outright reject it. They could also completely ignore it, in which case judgment will eventually be entered automatically against them. Also, it is worth noting that the simple act of submitting a claim could show the other side that this is being taken seriously and prompt them to consider negotiating a potential solution to stop the claim progressing further, such as offering full or partial payment of the amount sought in the claim.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 15 days ago.

Hopefully, I have answered your query in a way that is simple and easy to understand. If anything remains unclear, I will be more than happy to clarify it for you. In the meantime, thank you once again for using our services.