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“I have repaired a vehicle using technical specifications from a specialist technical reference service/manufacturer. Unfortunately the torque settings were wrong. We caught it but who would have been liable for any damage”
It is best to see legal liability as a bit like pass the parcel. It is much easier to pass the liability to the person next to you. As a business you are required to carry out any work with a reasonable level of care and skill. Where you fail to do so you are liable to your customer for any losses sustained and can be made to redo any faulty work to put it right.
You may be able to argue that you have followed reasonable care and skill by following reference material, but the short answer is that it is more likely than not that you would be held liable to your customer, particularly where that customer is a consumer.
Is that it?
No. Where you can show that the reason for any liability is that the information provided was incorrect, it is likely that you would be able to recover any losses from the technical reference service.
The outcome is a little more difficult to predict as this will be a business to business contract and slightly different rules apply. It may be that the contract includes a disclaimer of some sort to try and avoid liability if they are wrong. The court will have to decide if it applies and whether it is capable of being enforced.
As the repairing garage, you remain liable for your work to your customer. If in doubt double check any information and don’t forget to carefully document all conversations and to evidence all telephone calls, emails and letters for future reference. Also, this advice is general in nature and will need to be tailored to any one particular situation. As an RMI member you have access to the RMI Legal advice line, as well as a number of industry experts for your assistance. Should you find yourself in the situation above, contact us at any stage for advice and assistance as appropriate.
Paul Carroll, Solicitor, Motor Industry Legal Services