Q&As

A car dealer buys a used car and sells it on to a consumer. Due to suspected negligent servicing conducted by a third party for the previous owner, the car breaks down. Can the car dealer make a claim against the suspected negligent third party? If so, what would they need to prove and what losses could they claim?

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Produced in partnership with David Sawtell of 39 Essex Chambers
Published on LexisPSL on 26/05/2016

The following Dispute Resolution Q&A Produced in partnership with David Sawtell of 39 Essex Chambers provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • A car dealer buys a used car and sells it on to a consumer. Due to suspected negligent servicing conducted by a third party for the previous owner, the car breaks down. Can the car dealer make a claim against the suspected negligent third party? If so, what would they need to prove and what losses could they claim?
  • No privity of contract
  • Liability in negligence
  • Limits to recoverability for economic loss
  • Damage to other property

No privity of contract

The current owner of the motor car was not in a contract with the repairers, who carried out the work for the previous owner. As there is no privity of contract between the repairers and the current owner, a claim in contract relying on an implied term that the work would be carried out with reasonable care and skill (such as under section 13 of the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982) will most likely fail.

The current owner’s claim against the garage will therefore be limited to an action in negligence.

Liability in negligence

In order to establish negligence, the claimant will need to prove that the garage owed him a duty of care in respect of the loss caused. See Practice Note: Key elements to establish a claim in negligence.

If the claimant can show that the negligence has caused personal injury or damage to property other than the motor vehicle itself, the claimant is likely to be able to show that there was such a duty of care. In Haseldine v Daw & Son Ltd, at 379 Goddard LJ stated that 'a repairer of a chattel stands in no different position from that of a manufacturer, and does owe a duty to a person who, in the ordinary course, may be expected to make use of the thing repaired'.

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