Motor Dealer Act (11:VII)
A. Overview of the Motor Dealer Act
The Motor Dealer Act, RSBC 1996, c 316 [MDA] sets up a licensing regime that requires all motor dealers in the province be licensed. The Registrar of Motor Dealers carries out the licensing function. The Registrar has the authority to receive complaints concerning the conduct of a motor dealer and has the authority to refuse to provide a license, or suspend or terminate an existing motor dealer’s license.
The definition of a motor dealer is a person who, in the course of business:
- (a) engages in the sale, exchange or other disposition of a motor vehicle, whether for that person's own account or for the account of another person, to another person for purposes that are primarily personal, family or household;
- (b) holds himself, herself or itself out as engaging in the disposition of motor vehicles under paragraph (a); or
- (c) solicits, offers, advertises or promotes with respect to the disposition of motor vehicles under paragraph (a),
but does not include a salesperson.
The MDA Regulations set out requirements concerning representations made by a motor dealer when offering motor vehicles for sale. A motor dealer is required to disclose to a prospective buyer whether the motor vehicle was previously used as a taxi, police or emergency vehicle, or for organized racing. In the case of a new motor vehicle, the motor dealer must disclose whether the vehicle has sustained damage that required repairs worth more than 20 percent of the asking price. In the case of a used vehicle, the dealer must disclose whether the vehicle has sustained damages requiring repairs of more than $2,000. The motor dealer is also required to disclose whether a vehicle has previously been used as a lease or rental vehicle and whether a used motor vehicle has been brought into the province specifically for the purposes of sale.
A motor dealer is required to disclose to a prospective consumer whether the odometer accurately reflects the true distance travelled by the motor vehicle. The MDA Regulations also set out the required contents of a sale or purchase agreement concerning new vehicles.
Section 34 of the MDA prohibits any person from disconnecting or tampering with an odometer. It is also an offence to drive or operate a motor vehicle with a disconnected odometer. Furthermore, it is an offence for any person to alter, disconnect, or replace a motor vehicle’s odometer with the intent to mislead a prospective purchaser about the distance travelled by the motor vehicle. Odometer tampering can significantly increase the apparent sale value of a motor vehicle and, therefore, the consumer should be wary of representations of low mileage. The MDA sets out regulatory responses to odometer tampering. The consumer who suffers loss as a result of odometer tampering has a contractual remedy and may be able to present a claim to the Motor Dealer Customer Compensation Fund Board.
B. Motor Dealer Customer Compensation Fund
An individual who suffers a loss as a result of purchasing a motor vehicle from a registered motor dealer may be entitled to compensation from the Motor Dealer Customer Compensation Fund Board (“the Board”). A consignor of a motor vehicle is also entitled to make an application – on similar grounds as a purchaser – for compensation for the loss of the consigned vehicle or the value of the vehicle. Individuals who have purchased a vehicle, primarily for personal or family use, from a registered motor dealer are eligible to apply to the Board for compensation. Before applying for compensation, the consumer must first make a demand against the motor dealer responsible for the loss. What constitutes an eligible loss is set out in s 5 of the Motor Dealer Customer Compensation Fund Regulation, BC Reg 102/95. An eligible loss must be a liquidated amount arising from a trade-in, full payment, deposit or down payment or other liquidated amount in respect of the purchase of a motor vehicle. The cause of the loss must be related to the bankruptcy, insolvency, receivership, dishonest conduct, or failure of the motor dealer to provide clear title.
Under the Motor Dealer Customer Compensation Fund Regulation an eligible loss may also arise from the unexpired portion of an extended warranty so long as it results from the bankruptcy, insolvency, receivership, or other failure of the motor dealer. Claims that will not be compensated include those based upon cost, value or quality, those based on an extended warranty or service if it is recoverable from an insurer, and those related to the portion of the operation of the motor vehicle claimed as a business expense. For further information about making an application for compensation from the Motor Dealer Customer Compensation Fund, call the Vehicle Sales Authority at (604) 574-5050 or visit http://mvsabc.com/compliance-and-claims/compensation-fund/. A claim against the Fund must be made within two years from the refusal or the motor dealer’s failure to pay for the losses.
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