Supplying an Unroadworthy Vehicle

We have been trading for a number of months and I heard at the auctions that it is an offence to have a defective vehicle on our premises. We only buy decent cars and don’t deal in rubbish but on occasions a car may need a repair or even tyres before we sell it am I braking the law?
There is some truth in the rumour you have heard but it is not wholly correct, it is a criminal offence to supply an unroadworthy vehicle to a customer contrary to section 75 of the Road Traffic Act 1988. You are able to have ‘unroadworthy’ vehicles on your premises but any defective vehicles, or vehicles not inspected, should be clearly identified as ‘not for sale awaiting pre sale inspection’.

Please be aware that you must not supply an unroadworthy vehicle and so if a customer (or undercover Trading Standards Officer) asks if the vehicle ‘awaiting pre sale inspection’ is for sale it is wise to answer not at the moment. Just affixing a sign to the car does not absolve you of the legal requirement not to supply an unroadworthy vehicle.

It is also important to note that the offence is ‘supplying’ which is a wider definition than sale. So anytime you provide/supply a car to a customer you should consider whether the vehicle is roadworthy.

Prosecutions do occur and in April 2017 a car dealer was fined £12,000 by magistrates for selling an unsafe Renault Clio. Caerphilly County Borough Council’s Trading Standards officials visited Evolution Cars Ltd, at Newport Road, Trethomas, in September 2016, along with an independent motor engineer and examined vehicles offered for sale to ensure they were safe.

Tests found one of the vehicles, a 53 plate Renault Clio, to be in a dangerous condition due to its handbrake not working.

At a hearing at Newport Magistrates’ Court on Friday, March 31, company directors Osman Yasin and Tariq Mogel admitted an offence contrary to the General Product Safety Regulations 2005 and were fined £12,000. It was also ordered to pay £1,130.15 prosecution costs and a victim surcharge of £170.

However, it is important to remember that usually Trading Standards will only become involved if they receive complaints about your business or they become aware of some concern. Also they are unlikely to prosecute immediately and will generally try and encourage you to operate to an acceptable standard. Evolution Cars Ltd had received a number of warnings from Trading Standards in 2015 and 2016 for similar offences.

Further the company had previously been advised by both Caerphilly and Cardiff Trading Standards about the importance of ensuring all vehicles were safe. The court was told that one of these occasions was just three months before this offence was committed.

Probably the best way of ensuring a vehicle is roadworthy and can be offered for sale is to record the inspection. Here is a link to a free pre sales check list which will enable you to record the safety inspection for each vehicle. However, please note that inspections will only be of assistance to you in a prosecution if you undertake them carefully rather than have some junior employee just complete the form.

In the Evolution Cars case checks were being undertaken but Caerphilly County Borough Council said that while being interviewed by its Trading Standards officers, company director Mr Yasin indicated that safety checks were carried out by members of staff who had no formal mechanical training or qualifications.