“A customer has asked me to fit parts that he has supplied. I told him at the time that I was not responsible if they failed but there is now a problem and he is saying it is my fault.”
Whilst it can be common for customers to supply parts when things go wrong it can be difficult to untangle who is liable for what.
Where your client is a consumer you cannot avoid the statutory liability for either the service you provide or the parts supplied. Any parts must be of a satisfactory quality taking into consideration common issues such as your description and the price paid. Any diagnostic work, advice and fitting of parts must be carried out with a reasonable level of care and skill. A failure on any of these issues will result in you being liable for any losses reasonably sustained.
As you have not supplied the part then if the part has failed the starting point should be that there is no liability. If it has failed due to the fitting, then you are liable and establishing which can be difficult.
To make matters easy you need to ensure that the customer is clearly advised that you are not warranting the part before the work commences and that you clearly explain what will happen if the part fails. Ideally this should be clearly marked on any invoice.
Any failure should be investigated. You can require the customer to prove what has happened. However, you should consider whether you will be happy to accept anyone else’s opinion. Where appropriate consider whether an independent engineer should be used.
If you cannot agree who is liable consider referring the matter to the National Conciliation Service. This is a free and independent dispute resolution service provided to RMI members and their customers. They can be contacted on 01788 538317 and more details can be found on the RMI website at http://www.rmif.co.uk/consumers/why-use-an-rmi-member/
As this advice is general in nature and will need to be tailored to any one situation. As an RMI member you have access to the RMI Legal advice line, as well as several industry experts for your assistance. Should you find yourself in the situation above, contact us at any stage for advice and assistance as appropriate.
Motor Industry Legal Services
Motor Industry Legal Services (MILS Solicitors) provides fully comprehensive legal advice and representation to UK motor retailers for one annual fee. It is the only law firm in the UK which specialises in motor law and motor trade law. MILS currently advises over 1,000 individual businesses within the sector as well as the Retail Motor Industry Federation (RMI) and its members.