Hitchin car dealership fined for illegally selling unroadworthy car
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A car dealership has been fined for illegally selling an unroadworthy car, following an investigation by Hertfordshire Trading Standards.
Leon Howman, trading as Leon Howman Cars in Queen Street, Hitchin, pleaded guilty on September 23 at West Hertfordshire Magistrates Court to two offences under the Road Traffic Act and the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations.
His business was fined £1,700 - £700 for the sale of the unroadworthy car and £1,000 for trying to escape liability by calling the deal a trade sale – and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £1,645 and a victim surcharge of £120.
Howman’s brother, Bevis, sold an 11-year-old Zafira for £700, knocking it down from £995, as a trade sale to Trading Standards Officers posing as consumers in January this year.
Leon Howman was in Switzerland at the time and had left his brother in charge. The car had a worn handbrake, which could have become released, and a rusty ball joint affecting the steering.
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The court heard how Trading Standards Officers had given comprehensive advice in 2010 to Leon Howman, including advice on checking the roadworthiness of cars.
He was also told that he could never restrict a consumer’s statutory rights with statements such as ‘sold as seen’, ‘no refunds’ and ‘trade sale only’, which try to disclaim liability.
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In mitigation, Howman put the sale down to a mistake by his brother, who had been left in charge of the business without knowing his legal responsibilities.