A little while ago I was asked for advice by someone who needed to sue a motor dealer, but they weren’t sure which of the many names the business seemed to be using was the right one.

With names changed – for the potentially innocent – this is a summary of the case:

  • The warranty states that the customer company name is XYZ Motorsport Ltd
  • The warranty letterhead says Car Company Ltd c/o XYZ Motorsport Ltd
  • There is also a reference to Car Trading Group, but this appears to be a finance company
  • John Smith, who our client dealt with, is a director of XYZ Motorsport and another company called 123 Company Ltd
  • The website address of the motor dealership is ABCmotorcompany.co.uk and the company referred to on the site is ABC Motor Company Ltd, although there is no company of that name at Companies House, either dissolved or as a previous name
  • The debit card receipt for the deposit and the receipt of sale both state ABC Motor Company
  • However the VAT number of the receipt is that of 123 Company Ltd

It certainly is confusing and is either a poorly managed company structure or it is an attempt to avoid any potential legal action.

Unfortunately this is not an uncommon situation and it is important to clarify who should be sued before starting a claim. If the writ is found to be in a different name to the business when the enforcement agent attends, it could make the case unenforceable.

You may have seen several such cases on The Sheriffs Are Coming, the vast majority being against independent motor dealers, which can often change name and ownership on a regular basis.

In this particular case it would appear that 123 Company Ltd trading as ABC Motor Company would be the party to sue because that is where his money went.

However, in any case like this it always makes sense to take some legal advice, do your research before issuing proceedings. Always check the small print for the company name on any purchase receipt and card receipt provided and you can also check the GB VAT number.

David Carter

David is the former CEO of The Sheriffs Office.

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