Online Car Auctions: a pitfall for trade sellers?

The ongoing Coronavirus pandemic has driven car auctions entirely online. An obvious solution to keep auctions going but one that does make a difference when it comes to the law in England & Wales. In short, rights are being conceded by trade sellers to buyers, probably quite unwittingly, and exclusionary terms invalidated. The reason is that a crucial requirement for the exemption of classic car sales at auction from the majority of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 is that “individuals have the opportunity of attending the sale in person”. With an auction entirely online there is no such opportunity, so the exemption does not apply. The effect is that the full rigours of the 2015 Act apply to all sales by trade sellers to non-trade buyers at such auctions. That means the full rigour of the usual ‘consumer’ terms of satisfactory quality, fitness for purpose, and correspondence with description amongst others apply. In addition, it means that exclusionary terms to the contrary are overridden. It may well make a difference. It is certainly worth being aware of.