When a consumer doesn’t have the money to pay for a repair/work undertaken to a vehicle

Service and repair garages can sometimes be faced with undertaking repair work to a vehicle and finding the consumer has no money to pay for the work undertaken.

In certain circumstances the garage can withhold the release of the vehicle, if payment for that repair is not made (this is called exercising a lien).

There are restrictions to bear in mind, being the following:

- a repair or improvement must have been undertaken to the vehicle. Investigating a fault/diagnostics or storage charges wouldn’t apply

- there has to be a continuation of possession, so if initial work is undertaken, the vehicle is released to the consumer and then further work is undertaken, then a new lien from the initial work cannot be imposed.
However, if the vehicle is not owned by the consumer and is subject to a lease agreement/hire purchase agreement then its more complex. This is because the finance company could attempt to exclude the creation of the lien by a term within the agreement. Attempts could be made to argue the clause if the clause has not been brought to the repairing garage when being instructed by the consumer who is in control of the vehicle.

A notice in the reception area which puts the consumer upon notice also would not hurt.

Lawgistics Members can get advice and support on this or any other legal issue affecting their business by contacting the legal team.

Authors: Roxanne Bradley

Published: 10 Mar 2019


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