Re: Bought a stolen (or not stolen) car
- From: BrianW <brianwhitehead@xxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Wed, 15 Jul 2009 10:06:20 -0700 (PDT)
On 15 July, 13:26, theone <theone.4a39...@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
I'm new to this site and I'm hoping someone can help.....
My daughter bought a car five weeks ago from a private individual.
Everything checked out apart from the Regn Cert which the previous
owner to the one she was buying from had yet to send in. Our seller had
the tear-off slip of the Regn Cert.
One week ago my daughter was driving her car and activated a camera.
Suddenly, a million and one boys/girls in blue surrounded her. She was
arrested for driving a "stolen" vehicle. The car had been reported
stolen one week earlier - three weeks AFTER she had bought it.
Now for the interesting bit - turns out that a dealer "sold" the car to
a buyer who used a debit card which subsequently turned out to be dodgy.
This may explain the delay in reporting the car stolen. I don't know at
this stage if the guy who sold the car to my daughter was party to the
original purchase from the dealer or whether the car had been sold on a
My question relates to who owns the car.
From my daughter's point of view she was able to insure the car on the
same day of purchase and has since received a Regn Cert from DVLA (she
applied to the DVLA for one). The car had not been reported "stolen"
for three weeks whilst she had it which is why she was able to insure
it and get a new Regn Cert.
As she bought the car in good faith and it was not reported stolen at
the time I believe title passed to her when she bought the car. I don't
know the full details of the transaction between the dealer and the con
artist. If everything checked out at the time of sale it could be
assumed title legitimately passed to the buyer, con artist or not! A
bank should have authorised the original sale or the dealer did not
follow correct procedures. That title has since passed to my daughter.
The dealer, who has since found out that the car has been found,
naturally wants it back. The car is currently in a police pound
somewhere. My daughter has told the police that she considers herself
as the rightful owner. The police refuse to comment on what they see as
a civil matter. Incidentally, the police refused to take a report of the
potential theft (of her money from the seller) as there is no proof at
this stage that the guy who sold it to her knew it was hot property.
Police are investigating.
I think the dealer has a case to follow up with whoever conned him.
Responsibility for the con should not pass to us.
Also, should the police determine ownership before releasing the
It boils down to whether the person who sold the car to your daughter
("the rogue", to use the time-honoured phrase) obtained legal title
from the dealer. If he did, your daughter is now the legal owner.
Have a look at the case of Lewis v Averay, which is the leading case
on this area of law.
In Lewis v Averay, the rogue paid by cheque, which subsequently
bounced. It was held that title passed notwithstanding this. In
techical terms, the contract of sale was voidable - the seller, had he
managed to locate the rogue before he sold the car on, could have
terminated the contract and demanded the car back.
It seems to me that the same principle ought to apply here (although I
haven't checked whether a different rule applies to payment by debit
card). If so, your daughter is the rightful owner. It may take a
solicitor's letter to release the car, though. Your daughter may have
insurance to cover this cost - check her household insurance, road
recovery membership etc. Also worth checking, as someone else has
pointed out, whether there would be large amounts of impounding costs
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