Private car sales could be illegal during the latest coronavirus lockdown

Used car buyer is given a court summons after doing a 100-mile round trip to collect a secondhand Volkswagen Golf...

police car sign

Although car dealers are still allowed to sell new and used cars during the UK’s third coronavirus lockdown, it seems that buying a used car is against the current guidelines.

As of 5 January 2021, people in England, Scotland and Wales were told to stay at home as much as possible and only go out for exercise or essential journeys, such as buying food and medicine or to go to work if they cannot work from home. 

This is why officers from the Central Motorway Police Group (CMPG), which covers Staffordshire and the West Midlands, reported the driver of a used Volkswagen Golf, who was returning from collecting the vehicle. 

Volkswagen Golf GTI front

A tweet from the CMPG stated: “A 100-mile round trip to pick up a car in a private car swap deal isn’t a good or lawful reason to be out at 10pm.”

Speaking to Car Dealer Magazine, a spokesperson for CMPG said: “While it is not necessarily a breach of Covid-19 rules to buy a replacement vehicle if required for essential travel, a car swap is not deemed appropriate during the current lockdown restrictions.”

Nona Bowkis, a solicitor from motor trade legal expert Lawgistics, confirmed that private car sales do appear to be against the current lockdown rules, but that click and collect services that adhere to Covid-safe guidelines can continue at car dealerships.

She said: “From the comments on this story, it is clear that people can easily confuse the guidance with the law. The guidance talks about essential journeys, but the law only talks about requiring a ‘reasonable excuse’ to make a journey. The law states that people can leave home to collect ‘goods which have been ordered from a business’ and this is why customers can legitimately travel to collect a vehicle ordered online or over the phone from a dealer.

“That said, doing a private car swap deal that requires a 100-mile round trip does seem to break both the law and the guidance,” she added. 

The CMPG later reported on Twitter that the Golf driver had initially been stopped to investigate other offences when the “Covid-19 breach came to light”.

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