civil law

One of the issues that crops up on a regular basis with The Legal Advice Office are queries and advice sought from us when you have been lied to or, at least, not been told the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

If someone sells you an item, for example a motor car, and they do not fully disclose to you any defects in that vehicle that they knew about or should reasonably have known about; then you have certain legal rights and recourse.

Failure to disclose could well amount to fraud if you can prove an intention to commit a crime; but it is certainly, in most instances, a material non-disclosure or material misrepresentation.

A recent case study will help to illustrate these legal rights.

A few months ago, Mr A bought a second hand 2005 Toyota Double Cab from Mr Z via Gumtree. The ad for the vehicle stated that is was in very good condition; had less than 100000 kms on the clock and also had a full service history. The quoted price was R 120000.00. Mr A and Mr Z met by arrangement and Mr A test drove the vehicle with Mr Z as a passenger and was happy with car. Mr A asked Mr Z specifically whether he was aware of any problems with the vehicle and the answer he received was that there were none; but that the vehicle would need a major service the next time round. Mr A accepted this at face value.

A few weeks later after buying the vehicle and paying for it; Mr A noticed a vibration on the steering when driving at 140 kms per hour on the N2.

He took it in to a Toyota dealer for them to check it out.

To his utter amazement; Toyota then confirmed to him that this particular vehicle had been involved in a serious accident 14 months earlier and had a damaged steering column which had not been properly repaired or replaced by the panel beater.

Mr A was shocked and immediately contacted the seller, Mr Z. Mr Z confirmed the accident but denied that he was legally bound to disclose that fact to Mr A.

Mr A approached The Legal Advice Office for advice.

What were Mr A’s legal rights?

Our legal opinion was that Mr A certainly had legal rights and recourse against Mr Z.

There was duty on Mr Z not only to disclose the fact of the previous accident but also the extent of that damage as it was a material aspect of the value of the car at the time of the sale.

We therefore firstly gave Mr A one or our formal proper professional opinions by email on his legal rights based on his instructions to us and the documents provided; and thereafter advised him to instruct us to do an intervention and a formal letter of demand to Mr Z to demand performance and enforcement of Mr A’s legal rights. This he did and as a result Mr A got is entire purchase price returned to him and returned the vehicle to Mr Z. The sale was cancelled by agreement with our mediation.

We reiterate that if you are wanting to enforce your legal rights after a material non-disclosure or material misrepresentation; it is always wise to first get proper, professional legal advice before you do anything else. You need to know exactly where you stand.

If you have a query regarding a material non-disclosure or material misrepresentation; please contact The Legal Advice Office direct and/or our legal consultant, Hugh, as soon as possible for obtaining proper, professional legal advice.

Hugh’s telephone numbers are: 082-0932304 (preferred) or 028-3162832, where you can leave a message if he is unavailable. You can also send us an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. He was previously a practicing conveyancer and has 20 years practical experience in the field.

Again; please visit our website if you need any help, legal advice or legal services at www.legaladviceoffice.co.za or send an This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.to one of our email addresses; either This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we will revert within 48 hours.

Thank you.

The Legal Advice Office Team.

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Legal Advice Office

South Africa

Kandelaar Street, Vermont, Hermanus
Phone: +27 (028) 316 2832
Email: info@legaladviceoffice.co.za

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