Sunday, 15 November 2009

Cynon Valley Car Dealership Prosecuted

A car dealer who sold two vehicles that were deemed un-roadworthy has been fined nearly £6,000 in an important case.

Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Trading Standards officers were contacted by a consumer who had bought an MGF and a Mercedes Vito from Mr Auto in Canal Road, Cwmbach, in April last year.

Following the sale, the customer had a number of quality issues with the vehicles he had bought, but did not get the response he expected. Although both vehicles were sold with MOT certificates, the consumer was concerned as work that had allegedly been carried out by Mr Auto had not been.

He arranged his own independent MOT check on the vehicles and they both failed. The customer immediately complained to Trading Standards and a consultant engineer was called in July 2008 to examine both vehicles.

The engineer found a number of issues, including longstanding corrosion, and he deemed both vehicles to be unroadworthy.

Throughout the investigation, Tahir Kareem, director of Mr Auto, insisted both vehicles were roadworthy at the time of sale and the problems, including corrosion, had developed since the sale.

Mr Auto Ltd was charged with two offences under section 5 (3) of the General Product Safety Regulations and denied both offences when he appeared at Aberdare Magistrates’ Court this month.

The court heard evidence from the Trading Standards investigating officer, the engineer and the MOT inspector who issued the MOT for the MGF before it was offered for sale.

The engineer told the court the corrosion was, in his professional opinion, of a long-standing nature.

Defence argued that a pre-delivery inspection of the Mercedes had taken place immediately before they sold it. They were unable to produce paperwork relating to this and, instead, relied on the MOT issued to the MGF by a garage also in Mr Kareem’s ownership.

Mr Auto was found guilty on both offences and fined £2000 on each of the offences, £1000 costs, £750 compensation to the consumer and £15 victims surcharge,.

The bench reported they felt Trading Standards had produced a thorough case and statutory defence had not been established. They confirmed they believed both vehicles were unsafe when they were sold.

David Jones, Head of Community Protection at Rhondda Cynon Taf Council, said: “This is an important case as it once again shows how committed we are to protecting the public and why that work is so key to safety.

“The customer did the right thing by reporting their concerns to us immediately so we could take matters further. Both vehicles were deemed to be unsafe and it does not bear to think about what could have happened if they had failed as a result.

“As well as protecting the customer and the wider public from the dangers of unsafe vehicles on the road, it is also about the rights of the consumer to get what they pay for – and upholding the law against those who have a duty of care to protect their clients, in this case Mr Auto.

“We have a team of dedicated, expert officers who are on hand to advise any business on their legal responsibilities and we urge them to make contact to prevent cases such as this. We will take enforcement action where necessary, but we remain committed to prevention as well.”

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