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Title: Bikelawyer Solicitors on faulty bike parts

Date: 07 March 2014

Question
I have a 1988 Yamaha DT50 with a front drum brake. The left sideplate has a slot that the fork stanchion slides into to hold it all in place, especially when you brake. Unfortunately that slot opened up enough to allow the drum to rotate as I braked and it tore a hole in the fork stanchion as well.

I booked it into a workshop and the mechanics there sourced a second-hand front end with the forks and brake drum of a similar vintage which they fitted.

Unfortunately the same thing has happened again. The bike is back at their shop and they are trying to talk to the "main man" at the breakers they got them from.

Should I have to pay for another set of forks and the labour charges, or is the dealer or breaker responsible?

James Cooper, email

Answer

The answer lies within the Sale of Goods Act 1979 and Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 (as amended by the 1994 Act of the same name).

Where the seller sells goods in the course of a business as in your case, there is an implied term that the goods supplied under the contract are of satisfactory quality. Goods are of satisfactory quality if they meet the standard that a reasonable person would regard as satisfactory, taking account of any description of the goods, the price (if relevant) and all the other relevant circumstances.

The quality of goods includes their state and condition and the following

- fitness for all the purposes for which goods of the kind in question are commonly supplied,
- appearance and finish,
- freedom from minor defects,
- safety, and
- durability.

The term dealing with satisfactory quality does not extend to any matter which is specifically drawn to the buyer’s attention before the contract is made or where the buyer examines the goods before the contract is made, which that examination ought to reveal.

So the starting point is that you are entitled to expect that goods will be of a quality and standard that the reasonable person in the circumstances will expect. In your case this involves the inherent risk that a second hand and old part may be expected to carry a greater degree of susceptibility to problems than a new part.

A lot may depend on what you were told by the dealer as to the party and what you actually accepted or were inferred to have accepted. Ultimately this will be a decision for a judge. However your right of action is against the dealer, not breaker or original supplier (to stop you having to go all the way along the chain).

In this case I would start by arguing the dealer should replace the part with one of satisfactory quality although I can see them arguing that they are not responsible due to the age of the part and the reasonable assumption it would not be of the quality of a new part. This is a case where your next position should be perhaps to share the cost of the remedial work and replacement part. However I can foresee judges reaching a range of opinions and as such a negotiated settlement would be sensible.

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