Private motor sale - seller won't return deposit - advice welcome!


New Member
Thanks all, for the replies.
As I said in the original post, I understand that in this case, the law as it stands is on the seller's side, and that it's a civil law (law of contract) matter and not a criminal law issue. Furthermore, as it was a private deal between two non-trader individuals, consumer protection legislation does not apply as it would or may apply in a contract between a consumer and a business (but thanks to the poster who suggested invoking that protection, as you were well-intended).

Luckily for me, the code of decency trumped the civil law position, and the seller is returning the deposit.

I forgot to say in the original post that the asking price for the car was the full market price for an equivalent without a crash history.

In case this is of use to anyone else reading who may be in a similar situation - this is what I've learned but please also do your own research:
My understanding of CAT C (now 'S', for structural) write-offs is that there is always structural damage, possibly including to the chassis, which may negatively affect its future crash performance, and that it's necessary to declare such a vehicle's status/history to the insurer who may refuse cover/load the premium/require engineer's sign-off etc. In my case, the paperwork for the original repairs was not available/had been mislaid as the car had changed hands (a worrying number of times) since the write-off and while the car did have a valid NCT cert, it's my understanding that sub-par repairs can evade NCT checks. As I intended carrying family members in the car, I could not take that risk for others even were I willing to for myself. That said, I agree with other posters that a Cat C/S does not necessarily mean phenomenal damage occured in the incident that led to the write-off, but that it could. I also believe that vehicles carrying this history have a re-sale value of approx. 30% of its equivalents (the car in my case was being offered at full market value).

I believe in the UK there is a national register or database of some sort where buyers can easily check a vehicle's history (free of charge, and without having to pay a private company to run a check) unlike here in the Wild West of Ireland where anything goes in our cavalier disregard for regulation and transparency, and I would argue that something similar is needed here in Ireland as it appears our roads are full of other jurisdictions' car rejects (or bargains potentially, as long as it's all transparent and appropriately priced).

Anyway, I'm grateful to the seller for refunding the deposit. It was the decent thing to do, and he did it.