A high performance import similar to this sold to a teen by WS Imports is the focus of a dispute involving the dealer and the teen’s parents. Photo / Supplied
A dealer who sold a $40,000 Mazda RX-7 car to a teenager is now fending off claims from the boy’s parents he paid too much.
In October 2021, the North Island-based teenager negotiated and agreed to buy the 1999 Mazda RX-7 from Nelson firm WS Imports for $40,000.
The Japanese import was at that stage “un-complied”, meaning it was not legally roadworthy for New Zealand, but the teen bought it sight unseen, “via messaging or similar”, and without a written sales agreement.
The parents recently sought redress and lodged a claim in the Motor Vehicle Disputes Tribunal.
The dealer, James Wilkinson, who specialised in high-performance imports, told Open Justice the family appeared happy to pay the money at the time.
Wilkinson understood that central to the dispute lodged with the tribunal was how much it would cost to make the car compliant.
The tribunal had now passed the case to the District Court, saying the dispute was beyond its powers.
The tribunal noted in a decision last month that material filed in the tribunal showed the trader marketed the vehicle as a “project car” and made it clear to the purchaser it would need a lot of work before becoming roadworthy.
The tribunal adjudicator did however point out that this was, as yet, untested evidence.
Wilkinson, who has a following in the performance car scene and has been trading classic vehicles for a decade, told Open Justice he had been upfront about the work needed to bring the car up to scratch.
The tribunal said the purchaser, named in the decision as “Master A”, was a minor at the time.
He entered into a contract to purchase the vehicle he had seen online and negotiated the deal remotely, without first inspecting the vehicle.
“It would appear his parents were not involved in the purchase negotiations, even if his father lent him the money [the not inconsiderable sum of $40,000],” the decision read.
The tribunal said the trader knew that Master A’s father was funding the purchase and may have been aware that he was dealing with a minor.
Wilkinson told Open Justice he was unaware of the buyer’s age, and that it was his understanding an adult was present during the negotiations.
The tribunal was unable to take the inquiry further because its jurisdiction was limited and did not extend to resolving questions arising from the contractual capacity of minors.
It did, however, have authority to order that proceedings be transferred to a court or other body that had jurisdiction to determine the matter.
“As explained to the parties at the hearing and for the reasons set out above the tribunal regrets that it does not have jurisdiction to hear the purchaser’s claim.
“I determine so because the circumstances of the contract are central to any consideration of liability or otherwise on the part of the trader and as to remedy.”
Given the amount involved, the purchaser’s claim could not be transferred to the Disputes Tribunal.
The tribunal has now directed that the claim be transferred to the Hamilton District Court.