JOHOR BAHRU: A company has been awarded RM90,000 in damages against a vehicle distributor for the loss of use of a new car.
Sessions court judge Mabel Sheela Muttiah said Poratha Corporation Sdn Bhd had on the balance of probability proved its case against FA Wagen Sdn Bhd.
She allowed the plaintiff’s claim for RM1,779 as special damages and RM88,300 for the loss of use of the car and interest as mentioned in the statement of claim.
On March 15, 2013, the manager of Poratha Corporation bought a Volkswagen Polo Sedan 1.6 for about RM105,000 for his wife to send their children to school.
A month later, the company took delivery of the car but encountered problems, including mechanical faults and defects. As a result, it was unable to use the car from Sept 27, 2013 to March 17, 2016.
When the car was left at the defendants’ service centre for repairs, the plaintiff had to hire another car at RM200 a day from Oct 15, 2013 to March 13, 2016.
At the time, it said the car was still under warranty and the defendant was obligated to carry out the repairs and rectify the defects for the car to be road worthy.
In her 18-page judgment, Muttiah said based on evidence by two witnesses and also on documents, there were “real and fundamental ” defects to the car and the defendant had failed to rectify them within a reasonable time.
She said the plaintiff inevitably sustained losses as it had to continue paying for the car’s hire purchase instalments on the one hand but was not be able to use it, on the other.
She said the Consumer Protection Act 1999 states that there is an implied guarantee that the goods supplied to a consumer shall be of acceptable quality.
“The court finds that the statutory provision of ‘acceptable quality’ and ‘fit for purpose’ is wholly applicable in this case,” she said.
Unfortunately, in this case, she said, it was clear from the documentary evidence the car had numerous defects with its gearbox and engine mounting.
Further, as ridiculous as it may sound, the battery and the tyres of a new car had to be replaced within a short span of time after the purchase, she said.
There was also evidence, Muttiah said, that the car was not safe because of a defective brake disc that caused juddering when breaking, the driver’s seat kept moving and was not locked in a secure position, and the air conditioning was faulty.
She said no Volkswagen expert was called to justify the defence of the distributor.
In a passing remark, the judge suggested that the government should look at the Lemon Law which provided a remedy for purchasers of cars and other consumer goods to compensate for products that repeatedly fail to meet standards of quality and performance.
“The Lemon Law is a remedy for purchasers of consumer products, particularly motorised vehicles, that repeatedly fail to meet the standards of quality and performance,” she said, adding that Singapore has such legislation.
FA Wagen has filed an appeal in the High Court.