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Q: A registered gas engineer tells me that the heater in the living area of my newly purchased horsebox is leaking gas and is dangerous. The seller’s friend fitted the appliance.
As the horsebox was “sold as seen, no warranty”, do I have any rights?
NT, South Wales
The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 state that gas work undertaken in your home must be carried out by an engineer listed on the Gas Safe Register (formerly CORGI).
However, self-propelled vehicles, such as horsebox, fall outside these regulations.
Two key issues arise here, according to Sarah Jordan, equine law specialist at Daltons Solicitors in Hampshire: first, the application of the installation regulations and, second, how to seek recourse as a buyer.
“In 1998, it was considered too complex to apply the regulations to vehicles,” said Sarah.
“There appears to be a current appetite for change on this point within the vehicle and gas industries, but there are no firm proposals.
“If you buy a horsebox from a trader in the course of a business, sale of goods legislation requires goods are fit for purpose and of satisfactory quality.
“You can request repair or replacement of defective goods or, in certain circumstances, either a reduction of the purchase price or by rescinding the sale contract.
“Ultimately, you could reject defective goods and claim a full refund,” reasoned Sarah.
“If purchasing from a private seller, you do not have that protection, and the principle ‘let the buyer beware’ applies.”
However, if the seller represented to you, at or before the point of sale, that the appliance was installed by a registered engineer and capable of safe operation — and those assurances induced you to purchase — it may be possible to establish a misrepresentation claim.
“Misrepresentation claims are often difficult to establish, as you are reliant on statements of opinion,” explained Sarah.
“Prior to purchase, a buyer of a horsebox from a private seller should seek the opinion of a Gas Safe Registered engineer — visit www.gassaferegister.co.uk — that any gas appliance has been appropriately installed and is capable of safe operation.
“Buyers should ask to see documents, including invoices and receipts, relating to the installation of gas appliances, unless factory fitted.
“Fitting a carbon monoxide detector is a sensible step, too.”
Daltons Solicitors, tel: 01730 262816 www.equinelawyer.co.uk
This Q&A was first published in Horse & Hound (11 June, ’09)
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