The driver who was an expert could detect the bad condition of the car but after the purchase and payment. The sales man also did not wash the car before delivery contrary to his promise. His liability arises for having sold a defective car fraudulently, for the damages arising out of the accident occurred after delivery and for not having valeted the car before delivery.
Second hand goods including cars came under the purview of Consumer Protection Act 1987 through amendment by General Protection Act 2004. Hence second hand cars are subject to the same terms as they apply to new cars. Martha as a consumer can expect the quality to be satisfactory as per prescribed standards applicable to that good under section 14 of Sales of Goods Act 1979 as substituted by section 1 of Sale and Supply of Goods Act 1994.and also section 3 of Sale and Supply of Good to Consumers Regulations 2002. Accordingly, the car bought by Martha should be fit for the purpose, safe enough and durable as claimed by the seller at the time of sale. Martha can claim full refund of the value paid and she make an immediate complaint. No time should be lost since the seller can not say that the car might have been mishandled by the buyer after the purchase. But the witness of the driver who drove the car for delivery to Martha can always testify the condition at the time of delivery. If Martha returns the car within a maximum allowed period of six months, she need not prove that car was faulty at the time of sale. If the seller is not wiling to take back, the burden is on him to prove that it was not defective at the time of sale. Martha should make sure to initiate legal proceedings immediately in case of the seller's refusal, though a claim can be lodged within six years. If the seller agrees for the repair and the repair still does not set right the defects, Martha can claim full refund though Martha can stick to demanding full refund since the seller has sold a rogue car fraudulently. In case of seller's non-cooperation, she can seek advice from local Citizens' Advice Bureau for legal action in small claims court and for further recovery action after the claim is allowed by the court. She can also approach Retail Motor Industry Federation, The Vehicle Builders and Repairers Federation or MVRA Ltd as 'A1' condition for the car may be a standard prescribed by the trade for immaculate condition.
Besides, section 14 of Trade Descriptions Act 1968 makes it an offence if false statement is made for the condition of the goods sold by the dealer. The local authority of trading standards department should also be approached for lodging her criminal complaint against the seller/dealer of the car. There is provision under section 75 of the Road Traffic Offences Act 1988 for making a complaint against the seller for selling an unsafe car.1
In Bartlett v Sidney Marcus (1952)2, Lord Denning had stated that in case of second hand cars, the buyer should be aware of the prospect of encountering defects any time after the purchase and hence should not buy without an express warranty as otherwise the buyer can not have any remedy in law. The consumer must apply the usability test by ensuring that car should be fit for the purpose that is to ride along the road. Earlier usability test to establish merchantable quality was being applied for second cars for their road worthiness rather than being wholly perfect for their use. In the