John came to Which? Legal for help in a dispute with an art dealer involving two Chinese watercolours that have been in his family for more than 60 years.
Which? Legal member John had been introduced a local art dealer by a neighbour and agreed for it to value the paintings, acquired in Hong Kong in 1954 by a relative who collected Chinese porcelain and art. Other works by the same artist have sold at auction for substantial sums in the past few years.
John gave the pictures to his neighbour on 1 October 2014 to pass to the dealer. By 14 October he had received no terms of business or contract and decided to cancel and ask for the pictures to be returned.
His attempts to contact the dealer were unsuccessful as he hadn’t been given contact details. He finally got these from his neighbour, but the dealer was uncooperative and said he wouldn’t return the pictures until he’d received £468 for out-of-pocket expenses and time spent researching their value.
John paid under protest to ensure he’d get the pictures returned, which he did in mid-December. He asked for our advice on getting his money back.
Our legal advice
By failing to give pre-contract information and cancellation rights, the dealer appeared not to have met the Consumer Contract (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013.
We advised John that the breach was so serious he could end the contract and get a refund. He issued proceedings and the judge ruled in his favour.
What the law says
If a contract is made at a place other than the trader’s business premises, it’s an off-premises contract. Under the 2013 regulations, you must be given information about the product or service you’re buying, plus details of how to cancel the contract. You can do this at any time in a cancellation period, without giving reason or incurring liability.
For contracts to supply a service, the cancellation period is the end of 14 days after the day on which the contract is entered into. A trader needs to inform a consumer that if the supply of a service is to begin before the end of this cancellation period, the consumer will lose the right to cancel the contract.
Have you ever had a similar experience to John and his art dealer?