A former licensed motor car trader has been convicted and fined $13,500 for breaching the Australian Consumer Law (Victoria) (ACL) and the Motor Car Traders Act 1986.
Nigel Vivian Cowan, who operated Victory Auto Brokers in Tullamarine as a licensed motor car trader (LMCT), was fined $10,000 for two breaches of the ACL and $3,500 for three motor car trading offences.
On 23 April 2013, Mr Cowan pleaded guilty in the Broadmeadows Magistrates’ Court to:
- accepting payment and failing to supply a motor car
- making a false or misleading representation that a vehicle would be sold with 12 months registration
- consignment selling (selling, exchanging or otherwise disposing of a motor car, or any interest in one, as an agent for someone who is not an LMCT or a special trader)
- failing to comply with an inspector’s requirement, without a reasonable excuse
- failing to make the prescribed entries into the dealings book for 23 motor cars.
The Broadmeadows Magistrates’ Court initially fined Mr Cowan a total of $37,000. But Mr Cowan appealed against the severity of the penalties. The County Court upheald the appeal, reducing Mr Cowan’s fines to $13,500 and ordering him to pay $1,650 costs.
His motor car trader’s licence was cancelled in July 2012 due to unrelated events.
Mr Cowan’s conduct is detailed below.
Accepting payment and failing to supply (ACL)
A consumer paid Victory Auto Brokers a $3000 deposit on a Honda Prelude in August 2011. He was advised that if he was unhappy with the car after test driving it and getting a mechanic’s inspection, he would get a full refund.
The customer did not receive the vehicle, as agreed, for more than two weeks after he paid the deposit and when he sought a refund, only received $1400. In February 2012, the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal ordered Mr Cowan to refund the remaining $1600.
Making a false or misleading representation (ACL)
In August 2011, a customer paid Victory Auto Brokers $3900 to buy a Hyundai Excel GX Sedan after Mr Cowan told her that he would pay for 12 months’ registration. He also attached a registration sticker to the windscreen with an expiry date of 22 August 2012.
But in February 2012, the customer was stopped by police and told that she was driving an unregistered car. She then made repeated unsuccessful attempts to resolve the issue with Mr Cowan, including visiting a VicRoads office with him.
After being without a car for three weeks, the customer agreed to split the registration cost with Mr Cowan.
Motor car trading breaches
In May 2011, Mr Cowan sold a 2007 Honda Accord Sedan for $18,000 on behalf of someone who was not an LMCT. He received $1000 commission for the sale. Mr Cowan gradually repaid $16,000 before the seller made a claim on Motor Car Traders Guarantee Fund in November 2011 to recover the outstanding money.
Mr Cowan also failed to complete dealings book entries for 23 vehicles and provide documents required by a Consumer Affairs Victoria inspector, despite repeated requests and being served with an appropriate notice.