The Motor Vehicle Repairers Association is challenging a court ruling that an MoT testing station should pay damages to a customer who bought a vehicle with a full certificate though it later needed repair.
MVRA officials say the decision has massive ramifications for the industry. Many members run MoT test centres.
The case which has angered the MVRA involved the Webber Motor Company of Crawley, West Sussex, which was ordered to pay £1,500 in damages and costs to the owner of a Ford van. The owner sued the MoT centre after claiming he bought the van on the strength of its MoT. He had to pay to put right defects which he said Webber should have spotted.
'injustice'## John Wesley, MVRA MoT division technical engineer (pictured left), said: “We are questioning the validity of the MoT test, the certification of vehicles and the consequences of these procedures on the public.
“The fact that the Vehicle Inspectorate (VI) supported the claimant's appeal for damages in this case highlights the whole injustice of a system that has little or no value within today's motor industry”.
Mr Wesley said the MVRA was surprised by the “audacity” of the Vehicle Inspectorate in placing the majority of the blame in such cases on the tester rather than apportioning some of the blame in its own camp.
The MoT system had been devised by the VI which set out the minimum standards for vehicles. All UK MoT testers were trained by the VI with little continual support afterwards.
Mr Wesley suggested that the emphasis and scrutiny therefore should be placed on the system. He thought there should be minimum standards and training and support provision should be provided to the 19,000 MoT test stations across the country.
At present the main conflict lies with what an MoT test and certificate represents to retail car owners, specifically in the area concerning the vehicle's value.The certificate is seen as a guarantee of the condition of the vehicle for the next 12 months, But, according to Mr Wesley, the minimum standards set out by the VI mean quite the opposite.
“So much so that a car can pass its MoT test one day and fail the next,” he said. “We ask whether that is due to the carelessness of the tester or the inability of the VI to consider all the consequences of its regulations.”
The MVRA believes a potential solution would be to empower testers to provide documented information on areas where the passed vehicle might need repair over the coming months. In this way a customer would know the exact state and condition of the car.
“As the current system stands a tester cannot do this, although perversely they can when the car fails the test,” said Mr Wesley. “They can of course advise the customer verbally but they could deny all knowledge when experiencing a proble later, In cases such as this, the VI –instead of supporting the tester would undoubtedly place all its support with the customer”.
Mr Wesley said the MVRA believed the was far from adequate. “The misguided view of the public, combined with the lack of support and training from the VI, leaves MoT testers vulnerable,” he said.
“MoT testers are rarely negligent and in the majority of cases they are purely following instruction from a government body which takes little or no responsibility restrictions it imposes on test stations.
“This court case highlights to the MVRA and thousands of testers that abiding by VI rules within the MoT test system is being stuck between a rock and a hard place”.