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During the course of this last month we did a blog on Accident damaged vehicles being Defective Motor Vehicles and in that blog we also covered the consumers rights, in terms of the Consumer Protection Act No 68 of 2008(CPA), to claim a repair, a replacement or a refund of the purchase price from the dealer and/or service provider in the event that the consumer had bought a defective/accident damaged vehicle.

We continue to get daily inquiries about this problem.

A purchaser also has similar rights in terms of the common law, in the possible event that the CPA is not applicable in the circumstances of any particular case. This can occur for example when the 6-month statutory period since the date of sale has already expired.

Last week we received this query:

“In February 2018 I bought a 2016 second hand BMW motor vehicle from a dealership in George and although I have had satisfactory use of the vehicle for the last five months; I have now discovered that the vehicle which I bought was previously involved in a serious accident. What are my rights as I am not happy with this vehicle as the previous accident was not disclosed to me at the time of the sale in February this year; and the dealership must have known about the accident? Is this vehicle defective and can I still claim a refund or replacement vehicle from the dealer I bought it from?”

Well to answer this question is reasonably straightforward.

“Yes; you can” and a previously accident damaged vehicle IS ALWAYS a defective motor vehicle and this is especially true vis a vis the dealer if they did NOT disclose this fact to you at the time of the sale.

Every motor dealer has access to databases and trade records which will tell them whether a particular vehicle on their sales floor was previously involved in a collision, when it was repaired, by whom and what the cost of the repairs amounted to.

It is the duty of every motor vehicle dealership to check those databases and trade records and then with due diligence to advise any and all prospective purchasers of that essential and vital material information. This is both an ethical and a legal obligation and there are consequences if they fail to do so.

As a consumer forum and as consumers lawyers; we are often involved with cases where clients of ours have bought an accident damaged motor vehicle and then refer the matter to us for legal advice on their rights in these circumstances; and also sometimes to provide them with proper professional legal services to intervene, resolve and mediate the matter with the dealer or private seller.

It is vitally important that you do not delay in taking action in these circumstances as both the CPA and the common law require proactive and substantive pro-active steps to be taken with certain set time frames and always, in terms of the common law, you must act within a reasonable period of time after gaining knowledge of the true facts.

Once again here are some of the more frequent questions asked of us:

  1. What do I do if I have purchased a defective or previously accident damaged motor vehicle from a dealer?
  2. How does the Common Law protect me when I have bought a defective/ accident damaged vehicle privately?
  3. How does the Consumer Protection Act No 68 of 2008 (CPA) protect me if I bought a accident damaged and defective vehicle three months ago and the dealer says that it is not his problem?

If you have a similar situation or need advice or legal assistance; you are strongly advised in any of the above circumstances to act immediately and to contact The Legal Advice Office to attend to this or any intervention and mediation process for you; and not to attempt to do so on your own, as you do not normally have the necessary legal or practical experience; or even expert knowledge to do so.

Last week a client came back to us after trying to deal with the dealership direct himself; but we had to advise him that it was now too late to claim a refund as he had already agreed to the dealer repairing the car and he had now bound himself contractually to them for this relief only.

Do not make the same mistake.

If you have bought a defective motor vehicle, whether it has previous accident damage or is simply a “lemon” and did so within the last six months; contact The Legal Advice Office at or at one of our email addresses; either This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

About our author:

Hugh Pollard (Legal Consultant), has a BA LLB and 42 years’ experience in the legal field. 22 years as a practicing attorney and conveyancer; and 20 years as a Legal Consultant.

082-0932304 (Hugh’s Cell Number)

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Legal Advice Office

South Africa

Kandelaar Street, Vermont, Hermanus
Phone: +27 (0) 82 093 2304