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Trading Standards advice criticised

Trading Standards in Coventry has been heavily criticised for giving incorrect advice to dealers over car mileages after losing a legal case against a local trader.

The landmark ruling concerned the procedures with which dealers should comply when they have a car known to have an incorrect mileage.

Trading Standards advised garages that a simple disclaimer stating the mileage was incorrect was not sufficient – they had to publish the correct figure.

In the case of the Coventry trader, the odometer had gone round the clock and was showing a mileage at least 100,000 below its true value.

The Crown Court judge said Trading Standards' advice was wrong and that a “bold, precise and compelling” disclaimer was sufficient.

Evidence from David Combes, a trading standards consultant at Lawgistics, said the Director General of Fair Trading had approved the disclaimer used by the garage, which was accepted by the trade.

Mr Combes said that had the case been lost, dealers would not be able to sell a car until they had received the results of a mileage check.

“This can take up to eight weeks, if they get an answer at all,” he said.

“If the car has gone round the clock it would be impossible to state the mileage with any accuracy, and the garage would be liable for any declaration.”

Coventry Trading Standards department is considering an appeal against the decision.

Neil Davidson, a leading expert in Trades Description law, said: “If a trader had put out statements which were as misleading and frankly wrong as this in respect of goods then they would expect to be prosecuted.

“Rather than apologising, the department is talking about an appeal.”

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