Dealer liable for potential design weakness in Mercedes-Benz AMG GTC

An interesting recent Court of Appeal case (Kynaston-Mainwaring v. GVE London Limited [2022] EWCA Civ 1339) with a perhaps unwelcome outcome for car dealers when presented with an issue arising from a manufacturing fault.

Here, the Claimant purchased a Mercedes-Benz AMG GTC Roadster (‘the Car’) from the Defendant car dealer (“GVE”) for £122,000 on 08 August 2018.

Over a year later, in November 2019, the Car suffered severe flooding to the passenger footwell which amongst other things resulted in damage to the wiring loom.

At first instance, the District Judge accepted the evidence provided by the parties’ experts that a blocked drainage channel had resulted in rainwater overflowing into the passenger footwell despite a blocked drainage channel having been cleared during a routine service in May 2019.

The blockage was attributed by one of the experts to a potential design weakness of the drainage channel. On this basis, the District Judge ultimately concluded that the Car was not of satisfactory quality, pursuant to section 9 of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 and allowed the Claimant to reject the Car and ordered LVE to refund her £117,000.

GVE appealed, contending that the District Judge had erred in finding that the Car was not of satisfactory quality. GVE also argued that the District Judge had erred in the application of section 9 of the Consumer Rights Act 2015.

The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal on both grounds. The Court of Appeal held that GVE was far from demonstrating that the District Judge was plainly wrong or that his decision was one that no reasonable judge could have reached.

The Court of Appeal however, emphasised that it does not imply that they ‘would have reached the same decision, and it may well be that other judges will in future reach a different conclusion when considering similar issues and would be fully entitled to do so’ and that ‘it should not be taken as a more general determination, or even support for a wider view, that this model of car, or this design of drainage channel, has an inherent defect such as to render such vehicles not of satisfactory quality.’

A link to the Court of Appeal’s judgment is below.