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Why you can’t list a Ford Focus as a Porsche 911

24 October 2022

Vehicle misrepresentation – a statement made from one person to another, which is later found to be untrue or inaccurate – is a common issue and can lead to drastic consequences.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, you cannot advertise a vehicle as more or less than it is. For example, stating that you have full-service history on a 2009 vehicle which only has one recorded service or claiming the vehicle is in perfect condition when none of its windscreen wipers work. If you do say a vehicle is in “good condition”, what does this mean and how can you avoid being caught out?

What happens if a vehicle is misrepresented?

Although usually the seller’s intentions are to emphasise a vehicle’s good points to agree the best possible price, making a careless statement which proves to be untrue could lead to a buyer being able to claim for a refund, or the cost of putting the vehicle in the condition that it was advertised in. Along similar lines, if a seller makes an untrue statement knowingly, then this may be deemed fraudulent, and the buyer may be entitled to additional penalties, as well as compensation.

What happens if you are the seller, and you believed that what you said was true?

There is some allowance made in cases whereby a seller makes a statement which they believed to be true, but it has later been proven to be untrue.

What should I do if I think a vehicle was misrepresented?

The most important thing to remember in claims of this type is to act quickly. Delays can have a significant impact on your prospects of success. Make sure to contact sellers to complain about defects with a vehicle and seek rescission of the contract or compensation, to provide a letter of claim or issue court proceedings in good time; speed is key! This is especially true if you purchased the vehicle from a motor trader, where the Consumer Rights Act 2015 applies.

Often, neither the seller nor the buyer wants to proceed to court, and it will be in the best interest of all parties to resolve the matter without prejudice negotiations or mediation. This will keep costs to a minimum. Most matters which proceed to mediation are settled before proceeding to trial.

Whether you have bought a vehicle that is not as described or you are a seller who has been accused of misrepresentation, please get in touch – our team of vehicle litigation specialists would be happy to help you.

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Our Legal 500-rated litigation & dispute resolution team help private and commercial clients to resolve a wide range of disputes, including those related to vehicle misrepresentation.

Disclaimer: All legal information is correct at the time of publication but please be aware that laws may change over time. This article contains general legal information but should not be relied upon as legal advice. Please seek professional legal advice about your specific situation - contact us; we’d be delighted to help.
James Melvin-Bath LLB (Hons)
Senior associate, solicitor-advocate
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