Question (10 marks)
Richard has a specialist car dealership. He buys old cars, refurbishes them, and then sells them. He also hires out cars.
Richard is restoring an old jeep. It requires a special type of shock-absorber to enable it to travel over rough ground. Richard phones Shocks Are Us. He says to Emma, the manager: “I need four shock absorbers which can be used for off-road driving” Emma consults a brochure published by the shock absorber manufacturer and “Says the D200 shock absorber can be used for off-road driving.”. Richard then agrees to buy four D200 shock absorbers for $ 120 each. When he installs them on the jeep and takes it for a test drive over rough country, the shock absorbers give way and the jeep crashes down, causing $ 2 000 worth of damage to its body. It turns out that when Emma gave Richard the information over the phone, she had been looking at the wrong page of the brochure. Had she looked at the correct page, she would have seen that the D200 is not suitable for off-road driving.
Richard operates his business from premises which he has leased from George for $ 5 000 per month since January 2016. The lease specifies that the rent is to be paid to George every six months and that it will increase every year by 10%. Richard pays George $ 30 000 in June 2016 and December 2016 but then tells George that he is having financial difficulties and needs every dollar he can to buy equipment. George says “OK, I will let you off paying the increase this year”. Richard is pleased with this and uses the money he would have had to spend on the rent increase to buy new tools. In June 2017, Richard pays $ 30 000 to George, but George contacts him demanding an additional $ 3 000. When Richard refers to their earlier conversation, George says “Whatever I said, the lease you signed specifies that the rent will go up by 10% each year”.
Tom is a collector of vintage cars. He sees that Richard has a 1979 Mercedes 450SEL for sale on his website, priced at $ 20 000. Tom sends Richard an email saying “I offer to buy the 1979 Mercedes 450SEL for $ 18 500”. Richard sends an email back saying “Sorry, that is not enough, but I will sell it to you for $ 19 000”. Tom sends an email back saying “No, I can’t pay that”. Richard then sends an email saying “OK, I accept your original offer of $ 18 500”, but when he brings the car to Tom’s house, Tom refuses to accept it or to pay the money.
When Richard goes on holiday, Martin looks after his car lot. Martin doesn’t have a car. However, a friend of Martin’s is about to visit the town and he wants to be able to drive her around. Martin goes to Richard and says “Can I hire one of your cars?” Richard says “The usual price is $ 50 per day, but because you looked after my car lot in August, you can hire it at no cost. You can pick it up on Monday”. Martin is very pleased and readily agrees, but when he comes to pick up the car, Richard says that he has hired it out to a customer. Martin says that Richard has breached their agreement.
Advise Richard of his legal position in relation to each of these four scenarios. You should assume that all facts given would be provable if the matters came to court. You should also assume that when any of the people mentioned conduct business, they do so as to sole traders, not through corporations.