Question: I am writing in to understand if secondhand items are covered under the consumer protection laws. If I purchase a secondhand car from an individual and it later emerges to have a major defect, would I have any legal protection? What if I purchase a vehicle from a secondhand dealer? Please advise.
Pursuant to your queries, we assume that you intend to buy secondhand vehicle in the UAE either from an individual or a car dealer. Therefore, the provisions of Federal Law No. 15 of 2020 on Consumer Protection (the ‘New Consumer Protection Law of UAE’) may be applicable.
It should be noted that the New Consumer Protection Law of UAE was published in UAE official gazette on November 15, 2020, and is expected to come into effect from May 15, 2021.
Answer: If you purchase a secondhand vehicle from an individual in the UAE prior to the New Consumer Protection Law being effective and later, if there is a major defect, the prevailing consumer protection laws may not protect you. This is because the relationship between you and the individual from whom you purchased the secondhand vehicle may not be considered as seller and consumer.
The provider (seller) has been defined in Article 1 of the Federal Law No. 24 of 2006 in respect of protection of consumers (the ‘Repealed Consumer Protection Law UAE’) as “any natural or juridical person providing a service or information, or manufacturing, distributing, trading, selling, supplying, or exporting any goods or involved in the production or the trading thereof”.
To safeguard your interest, you may enter into a written agreement with the individual or the secondhand dealer. You could mention certain clauses which will protect you against major defects which may occur in the future.
In the event the major defect emerges in the secondhand vehicle purchased from a seller, you may call upon him/her to rectify the defects or compensate you with a certain amount.
If the seller does not agree to rectify the defects based on the agreement signed, you may initiate legal action.
However, if you purchase the secondhand vehicle after the New Consumer Protection Law becomes effective, you will have a higher level of protection. The new law covers all goods and services within the UAE, including in free zones, and all related operations carried out by suppliers, advertisers or trade agents, including electronic commerce transactions if the supplier is so registered in the UAE.
Ashish Mehta is the founder and Managing Partner of Ashish Mehta & Associates. He is qualified to practise law in Dubai, the United Kingdom and India. Full details of his firm on: www.amalawyers.com. Readers may e-mail their questions to: email@example.com or send them to Legal View, Khaleej Times, PO Box 11243, Dubai.