Timescales and Costs - What is seen as reasonable?

When selling vehicles, it is inevitable that every so often an issue with a vehicle will occur shortly after your client has taken ownership of that vehicle. Under Section 48C the Sale of Goods Act 1979, it states:

if a buyer requires the seller to repair or replace the goods, the seller must repair or replace the goods within a reasonable time but without causing significant inconvenience to the buyer” & “ bear any necessary costs incurred in doing so

Of course, this does not present much guidance to our clients on what is a reasonable timescale and what is or is not a significant inconvenience to the buyer. From our interpretation of the legislation and Judicial rulings on similar cases, it would be apparent that if the issue is relatively minor, then up to a few days is seen as being reasonable. Of course, if the issue with the vehicle is complex and in depth diagnostic work needs to be carried out, then a week or longer could be argued as being reasonable. The key here to manage the customers’ expectations by keeping them informed of all progress.

Subsequently, in relation to costs incurred when resolving a matter, this will extend to interim arrangements the customer has to make whilst a vehicle is being repaired. For example providing a courtesy vehicle where possible would be appropriate and paying any transportation costs of the vehicle would be considered as a part of the reasonable costs to repair the vehicle. You will therefore be expected to pay these costs, providing they are proportionate and reasonable.

If a repair is not carried out within a reasonable time and there has been significant inconvenience caused to the owner. This would provide them with the ammunition they require to reject the vehicle and commence proceedings against you, which is not an ideal situation.

Many consumers are unclear as to what they are, and are not entitled to claim when purchasing a second hand vehicle and we often hear how their expectations are unrealistic. We have recently launched a new product to help overcome such unrealistic and time consuming issues. The ‘Your Legal Rights Explained’ booklet is for your customers and is designed to inform them of what they can expect legally through all stages of the buying process.


Authors: Roxanne Bradley

Published: 12 May 2015


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