Summary of Chelmsford Auction ltd v Poole case

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Chelmsford Auction ltd v Poole [1973] QB 542

Summary of Facts: On 15th September 1967 auctioneers called Chelmsford Auctions Ltd. held an auction at Chelmsford for the sale of cars. They put up for sale a Fiat motorcar. It was knocked down by the hammer to the highest bidder, Mr. Poole. The price of the car was £57. There was an extra £1 as an Indemnity fee. The total was £58. Mr. Poole paid a deposit £7 on the vehicle. The auctioneers retained £3.50 of it for their commission. They paid the vendor the other £3.50 and also £51 of their own money, thus making the £58 for the car.

Mr. Poole did not take delivery of the car or pay the balance of £51 which he owed. On 20th September 1971, he saw the car on the auctioneers’ premises. He thought that is was not in a road worthy condition. So he refused to accept it. He never got the vehicle or the log book or the keys. The auctioneers retained them.

On 2nd October 1971 the auctioneers sued Mr. Poole in the Chelmsford County Court for the price of the car. The case was heard on 20th March 1972. Counsel for Mr. Poole took a preliminary point. He said that the auctioneers were unable to sue in their own name because they had taken a deposit who covered their own commission: and that the only person who could sue was the true owner of the goods. This point was raised in paragraph 8 of the defense, which said: “The plaintiffs”-that is the auctioneers-“were not the vendor but expressly acting on behalf of a disclosed principal, and the loss (if any) was not suffered by the plaintiffs. In the premises the defendant denies that the plaintiffs have a cause of action against him.”

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Judgment: Appeal allowed; order of County Court Judge set aside; action remitted to the County Court for hearing on the main issue.

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