Case name & citation: Thain v Anniesland Trade Centre  SLT (Sh Ct) 102
Court and jurisdiction: Sheriff Court, Scotland
Year of the case: 1997
Area of law: Implied condition as to Satisfactory Quality
What is the case about?
Thain v Anniesland Trade Centre is a Scottish case that considered whether or not a second-hand car that quickly developed a major fault could be turned down on the grounds that it was not of satisfactory quality.
Facts of the case (Thain v Anniesland Trade Centre)
Here, the car was a Renault 19 that was between five and six years old and had done 80,000 miles by the time it was purchased. It would have cost approximately £11,000 to purchase a brand-new car of this type. The claimant purchased the car from a dealer for the price of £2,995, but he did not take a warranty of three months.
About two weeks after the car was purchased, a differential bearing in the automatic gearbox started making a noise. The claimant continued to drive the car, and as the noise became increasingly noticeable, it became clear that the gearbox would need to be replaced soon. This would have been uneconomical for a vehicle of this age.
The claimant brought an action to reject the car alleging that it was not of satisfactory quality.
Was the car not of satisfactory quality?
Judgment of the Court in Thain v Anniesland Trade Centre
The Sheriff Principal of Glasgow held that the action failed. There was no breach of the satisfactory quality requirement.
The price paid is an important factor in determining whether a product is of satisfactory quality. Buying second-hand is less expensive, but the quality expectations are also lower. The court stated that if you purchase a second-hand car, the risk is on you because you cannot expect it to be fault-free.
The reasoning behind the decision
The claimant should have been aware that the problem with the gearbox was one that could occur at any point in time and was something that had to be expected. Before the purchase was made, a number of experienced drivers had examined the car, and none of them had found anything wrong with it. Because there had been no noise coming from the gearbox, it was reasonable to infer that there was no defect present at the time of the sale, which meant that the car had satisfied the standard that a reasonable buyer would consider as being satisfactory.
Further, as it was well known that the gearbox on a car like this could fail at any time, a reasonable person would accept that the risk of its failure and the need for an expensive repair could arise at any time. It was a matter of chance as to when this would occur. The claimant was unfortunate.
Under the circumstances, however, a reasonable person would not have demanded durability from this particular car. If the car had been new, it would have been reasonable to expect it to function without any significant component or system failure for at least the period covered by the warranty.
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