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Behind the Wheel - Seller Beware!

Would you write about selling a vehicle? I have friends who sold a car and months later they received information that the car was in an impound lot. The purchaser had failed to register the car in his name and since the car was still registered to them they were legally liable. How does one insure that the new owner re-registers the vehicle?

This is an area of civil law that I am not familiar with, so I asked for legal advice. This is what was related to me:

"In my opinion the registered owner would bear responsibility to the towing/storage company. The seller would then have to chase after the buyer for indemnification. This may seem harsh, but the reason that we have a system of registration is to ensure that liabilities and responsibilities are clearly designated. It is the vendor's responsibility to ensure that registration is changed as much as it is the buyer's.

If I was giving advice to the seller I'd be telling them not to pay the account and have the matter addressed in court, so that the purchaser could be brought in by 3rd party proceedings to place responsibility where it ought lie."

I do know that when you transfer ownership of a motor vehicle ICBC requires that you complete form APV9T, the Transfer/Tax form. The purchaser is then required by the Motor Vehicle Act to present the form and register the vehicle within 10 days of the transfer. Many do not and the vehicle may be resold a number of times before it is registered again. No doubt this is done to avoid paying sales tax.

ICBC will tell you if the vehicle you sold is no longer registered in your name once it has been re-registered if you check with them. If this does not happen within a reasonable time, you may wish to lodge a complaint with police and provide a copy of the transfer to Consumer Taxation to force the buyer's hand. Of course, this would assume that you have kept a copy of the transfer form, that the form was completely filled out at the time of sale and you have taken steps to insure the identity of the buyer.

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