Private individual being sued in the Small Claims Court

delgirl

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A friend, who is a private individual not a business, sold a second hand car in May 2021 and has received a summons in August from the Small Claims Court as the buyer, also a private individual, is no longer happy with the car! It's my understanding from the Citizens Information website and the Consumers' Association of Ireland that a private individual cannot be sued in the Small Claims Court, it's only for a Consumer vs a Business or Business Owner.

Here's the exerpt from the CAI website
"You can claim against a person or company for goods or services you purchased from them for private use, providing they were acting in the capacity of a business. If you bought goods or services from a person under a private, informal arrangement, the court won’t be able to take your claim."

My friend has responded to the summons, her response was sent to the Claimant, the Claimant responded to the Court that they did not accept the Respondant's claim to be a Private individual and that the car was sold under a private, informal arrangement. Now the Small Claims Court is asking my friend for an offer of settlement within 14 days or a court date will be issued.

Surely this is not correct? How can you prove to the Court Registrar that you are indeed a private individual and are not a business in order to stop the case proceeding to Court?

The car was sold privately from her house, she is a PAYE employee and doesn't have any other sort of business and can't understand why this is going to court. The car was sold on a "SOLD AS SEEN" basis 3 months prior to the summons arriving. The buyer chose not to bring a qualified mechanic, drove the car, was happy with it and paid in cash.

Grateful for any insight or experience anyone has had with a similar case.
 

cremeegg

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A person can make any claim they wish, in this case the buyer is claiming that your friend is in business as a car dealer. Your friend will have to go to court to deny this, there is no pre-court tribunal for the small claims court to determine that matter.
 

delgirl

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Thank you cremeegg. She's perplexed as to why this is happening and is very anxious about going to court.
 

Brendan Burgess

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It's very annoying

The first thing is that she can tell the judge she is not a business and he should throw the case out.

The worst outcome is that the judge doesn't believe her and awards the maximum compensation of €2,000 against her.

Brendan
 

Paul O Mahoney

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Have we really come to this as a society its simply mind boggling. Even if that girl isn't liable shes anxious, has to take time off work , the cost to the taxpayer won't be cheap because nothing is here.

I'm all for the rights of people but this to me is just another example of the entitlement culture.

Surely if the claimant loses due to what appears to be a bogus claim that person needs to foot the bill? Its ludicrous.
 

peemac

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Shows how some people abuse the SCC process.

Maybe someone else can answer, but could she sign an affidavit stating that she is not and has not traded any vehicle in a business capacity and that this vehicle was her private vehicle for the past 3 years.

Maybe a counter claim for the stress this false and defamatory action is causing her?


But, being devils advocate, is there another side to the story?
 

Brendan Burgess

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Hi Paul

We have not heard the other side of the story.

I doubt it's a question of "she is just not happy with the car".

We don't know if she tried to resolve the issue with the seller.

There could be something serious wrong with it. She doesn't realise that the Small Claims Court is not the way to go.

Brendan
 

mathepac

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I suspect that this may be a case of a "private individual" selling multiple cars / computers / other hardware under the same user-name on some of the "buy-and-sell" type web-sites.

I have complained to the site owners and operators that these "private individuals" are in fact small-time dealers trying to deprive consumers of their rights in relation to warranties and after sales service. When they copped out on a "not our problem" line and "read out T&Cs" nonsense, I started asking the questions of the "private individual" advertisers. For my trouble I got banned from commenting on ads from certain retailers, proof positive that for a number of the sites concerned revenue comes first and consumer rights don't matter.

Any possibility this might be the case with OP's friend's car?
 

delgirl

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I suspect that this may be a case of a "private individual" selling multiple cars / computers / other hardware under the same user-name on some of the "buy-and-sell" type web-sites.

I have complained to the site owners and operators that these "private individuals" are in fact small-time dealers trying to deprive consumers of their rights in relation to warranties and after sales service. When they copped out on a "not our problem" line and "read out T&Cs" nonsense, I started asking the questions of the "private individual" advertisers. For my trouble I got banned from commenting on ads from certain retailers, proof positive that for a number of the sites concerned revenue comes first and consumer rights don't matter.

Any possibility this might be the case with OP's friend's car?
Thanks everyone for their input. It is indeed shocking that someone can be taken to the SCC when they have done absolutely nothing wrong!

This lady is a nurse, works full time, shift work and overtime and is a PAYE employee. She's in her early 60's and is not internet savvy and doesn't sell anything online as she lives alone and doesn't want 'strangers' coming to her house. She's had this car for 3 years, we live in a smallish town and I've seen her driving the car for around that length of time, and has the documentation to prove it.

The purchaser is a young 20 year old man who contacted her approximately 3 months after the purchase to say that he wasn't happy with the car ' the way it was running' and he wanted his money back. She explained to him that he had purchased the car 'as seen', test drove the car and was happy with it then. She also pointed out that he could have brought a motor mechanic or someone else with some knowledge of cars when he came to make the purchase. His argument is that she didn't offer him that option!!!!

The young man has claimed that since he purchased the vehicle in May 2021, the car has been undriveable and off the road. Fortunately, a lot of young people live their lives on Social Media and I have found photos and videos on Instagram and Facebook of him indeed driving the car and attenting various events with friends. I have screen shot the photos and downloaded the videos for her to use as evidence in court.

AFAIK the onus is on the buyer, caveat emptor, to ensure that the 2nd hand item they are purchasing is in good order and particularly for 2nd hand cars, one should always bring a mechanic.

Someone may have told him to just go online, pay €25 and you can make a claim agaist her and this is what he has done. He's inferring that she's a business person, which is totally incorrect, but as cremeegg said earlier there's no mechanism available in the SCC prior to the actual hearing to ascertain if this is true or not.

She's now collating payslips for the past 6 months, has asked her employer for a letter stating that she has been a PAYE employee for the past 12 years at this particular nursing home and is printing copies of bank statements to show her income as a nurse and no other sources of income.
She's also calling the CRO to see if they can issue a letter stating that there are no companies registered at her home address or no businesses registered in her name.

She also knows where he works and is planning to wait outside his place of work to photograph him arriving in the car with the date and time stamp on the photo to prove he is in fact still driving the car and will do this for numerous days if his start time doesn't overlap with her working hours.

It's shocking to me that someone in their 60's would have to go to these lengths to prove that they're not operating a business. Besides the fact that he bought the car 'as seen' 3 months prior to complaining and didn't have it inspected by a mechanic.
 
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Paul O Mahoney

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Thanks everyone for their input. It is indeed shocking that someone can be taken to the SCC when they have done absolutely nothing wrong!

This lady is a nurse, works full time, shift work and overtime and is a PAYE employee. She's in her early 60's and is not internet savvy and doesn't sell anything online as she lives alone and doesn't want 'strangers' coming to her house. She's had this car for 3 years, we live in a smallish town and I've seen her driving the car for around that length of time, and has the documentation to prove it.

The purchaser is a young 20 year old man who contacted her approximately 3 months after the purchase to say that he wasn't happy with the car ' the way it was running' and he wanted his money back. She explained to him that he had purchased the car 'as seen', test drove the car and was happy with it then. She also pointed out that he could have brought a motor mechanic or someone else with some knowledge of cars when he came to make the purchase. His argument is that she didn't offer him that option!!!!

The young man has claimed that since he purchased the vehicle in May 2021, the car has been undriveable and off the road. Fortunately, a lot of young people live their lives on Social Media and I have found photos and videos on Instagram and Facebook of him indeed driving the car and attenting various events with friends. I have screen shot the photos and downloaded the videos for her to use as evidence in court.

AFAIK the onus is on the buyer, caveat emptor, to ensure that the 2nd hand item they are purchasing is in good order and particularly for 2nd hand cars, one should always bring a mechanic.

Someone may have told him to just go online, pay €25 and you can make a claim agaist her and this is what he has done. He's inferring that she's a business person, which is totally incorrect, but as cremeegg said earlier there's no mechanism available in the SCC prior to the actual hearing to ascertain if this is true or not.

She's now collating payslips for the past 6 months, has asked her employer for a letter stating that she has been a PAYE employee for the past 12 years at this particular nursing home and is printing copies of bank statements to show her income as a nurse and no other sources of income.
She's also calling the CRO to see if they can issue a letter stating that there are no companies registered at her home address or no businesses registered in her name.

She also knows where he works and is planning to wait outside his place of work to photograph him arriving in the car with the date and time stamp on the photo to prove he is in fact still driving the car and will do this for numerous days if his start time doesn't overlap with her working hours.

It's shocking to me that someone in their 60's would have to go to these lengths to prove that they're not operating a business. Besides the fact that he bought the car 'as seen' 3 months prior to complaining and didn't have it inspected by a mechanic.
She has no need to all that, tell the buyer that she'll get the car checked out by an independent mechanic and send on the report.

My critical mind says if it was off the road there shouldn't be any mileage added, and if he claims its not driving well ,how does he know if it "was off the road"?
Is the car taxed?

Believe it or not ye can check this, my money is that it isn't.

She has right on her side use it. Be seen to do all the right things to resolve all the issues, the truth will out.

If the buyer is local has the car been seen on the road?
 

RedOnion

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She's had this car for 3 years, we live in a smallish town and I've seen her driving the car for around that length of time, and has the documentation to prove it.
That's really all she needs. If she has tax / insurance/ nct letters showing the car was in her name for 3 years, that's all I'd be bothering with. Send it back - while there isn't a mechanism to mediate small claims, the clerk does have to power to strike out a claim that doesn't meet the small claims criteria.

It sounds like the buyer is chancing their arm.
 
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delgirl

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She has no need to all that, tell the buyer that she'll get the car checked out by an independent mechanic and send on the report.

My critical mind says if it was off the road there shouldn't be any mileage added, and if he claims its not driving well ,how does he know if it "was off the road"?
Is the car taxed?

Believe it or not ye can check this, my money is that it isn't.

She has right on her side use it. Be seen to do all the right things to resolve all the issues, the truth will out.

If the buyer is local has the car been seen on the road?
Thanks Paul. However, why should she tell the buyer she'll get a mechanic to look at it when he purchased it 3 months prior to complaining and God knows what he's been doing with it during that time. I feel it's no longer her responsability - if he thought there was something wrong with it, he should have let her know immediately and he should have had it checked by a mechanic at the time of purchase.

She has the mileage when the car was sold, but of course doesn't have access to it now to check the current mileage.

Didn't know you could check the tax, but if it's not taxed, he'll probably just say it was off the road?

He has been seen driving in the town and she has now asked friends to take a photo of the car and the shop or whatever it's outside of to prove that he's driving it.

She literally can't sleep as she's never had so much as a speeding ticket and has never been to court in her life.
 

kinnjohn

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Yes, she lives alone and had the car for about 3 years before she sold it.
Was the change of ownership from her name to the new owners or was it in another person name for all or part of the last 3 years, before transfer of ownership,
 

delgirl

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No. It'd be better not to engage rather than inadvertently admit liability.
I agree and thanks for the advice. She's in such a state that she's going to go in with all the paperwork, photos etc. she can get her hands on to be sure the Judge believes her.
 

delgirl

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Was the change of ownership from her name to the new owners or was it in another person name for all or part of the last 3 years,
Straight from her name into the young man's name and it was in her name only for the 3 years.
 

Paul O Mahoney

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Thanks Paul. However, why should she tell the buyer she'll get a mechanic to look at it when he purchased it 3 months prior to complaining and God knows what he's been doing with it during that time. I feel it's no longer her responsability - if he thought there was something wrong with it, he should have let her know immediately and he should have had it checked by a mechanic at the time of purchase.

She has the mileage when the car was sold, but of course doesn't have access to it now to check the current mileage.

Didn't know you could check the tax, but if it's not taxed, he'll probably just say it was off the road?

He has been seen driving in the town and she has now asked friends to take a photo of the car and the shop or whatever it's outside of to prove that he's driving it.

She literally can't sleep as she's never had so much as a speeding ticket and has never been to court in her life.
I always think solutions outside of courts are less arduous. If shes struggling with this I'd get her to the doctor immediately and record the effects this is having on her ......
 
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