When a sheriff arrives

A popular TV show “The Sheriffs are Coming” on BBC1 (other shows and channels are available) recently featured  a consumer enforcing costs owed for rejection of a vehicle.

Although the full facts clearly were not given and some might say a biased view given instead, there were a few points we picked up on. From the facts presented, the consumer purchased the vehicle in question for £9,300 which had undergone a service. The oil level warning light indicated that a check was needed (the information of how long this was after purchase or the mileage travelled was unfortunately left out?!) The consumer took the vehicle back to the trader and the issue was resolved. Allegedly, four weeks later the same issue arose. The consumer then proceeded to take the vehicle to an independent garage of their choice and was told the issue regarding the oil was down to worn piston rings.

The consumer then contacted the Citizens Advice Bureau and was told under the Sale of Goods Act 1979, if the vehicle was not fit for purpose then they were entitled to a full refund. Lawgistics and the Citizens Advice Bureau would not be singing from the same hymn book so to speak.

Under the Sale of Goods Act 1979, within the first six months of purchase it is down to the trader to show the vehicle was fit for purpose at the point of sale. After the six months, the onus is then upon the consumer. We don’t know how long after the vehicle was purchased that the problem arose but if it was within the first six months, we would be asking if the vehicle was sold with a new MOT, what mileage had been covered, how long after purchase did the problem occur and we would have requested supporting evidence to check if it was consequential damage?

To clarify further, the Sale of Goods Act 1979 states that the seller is entitled to inspect the vehicle if the consumer experiences an issue. If the seller has liability, they are entitled to offer a repair or replacement. If the repair or replacement is not carried out within a reasonable time period, then the consumer could be entitled to a refund. Again, in this case, we are unaware if the seller was given the opportunity as above.

The matter escalated to court proceedings, in which the consumer won the case for the full refund price of the vehicle plus costs. The Sheriffs were then brought in to enforce payment. If you are faced with a court order to pay the other party, we recommend this is paid as soon as possible. If the judgment (ccj) is paid within one calendar month then the judgment will not show on the credit file. If you pay after the one month period, you can apply for a certificate of satisfaction when the debt is paid in full. The fee is currently £15.00 and evidence of the debt payment will need to be included.

Apparently, the consumer was paid the full refund plus costs and had the use of the vehicle for 19,000 miles. We would have obviously argued very strongly against the consumer in this case which appears, on the facts given to have led to a disproportionate and totally unreasonable conclusion.

Lawgistics members can get advice regarding sheriffs visits and court enforcement from the legal team.


Authors: Roxanne Bradley

Published: 04 Aug 2015


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