Porsche Enthusiast Wins £35,000 Breach of Contract Claim

In a case which raised a number of important issues concerning the sale of goods, a pensioner who paid a £10,000 deposit for the sports car of his dreams – only to see it sold to another customer behind his back – has won damages of £35,000 from the car dealership concerned.

The man had set his heart on buying a rare Porsche 911 but faced much competition from other car enthusiasts. After he was the first to pay a deposit, he was assured by a salesman that he would be first in line if one of the cars became available. When the dealership took delivery of one of the vehicles, however, it was sold to another client. The man was untruthfully told that none of the cars had been allocated to the dealership by the manufacturers but his breach of contract claim was nevertheless dismissed by a judge.

In upholding his challenge to that decision, the Court of Appeal noted that he had been told in terms that it would be a case of ‘first come, first served’. By paying the deposit, the man had done more than merely express an interest in the car and there was a binding contract between him and the dealership, which the latter had breached. The man’s damages award represented the difference between the sum he would probably have paid for the car, £135,000, and its likely value to a collector, £170,000. The dealership was also ordered to pay the substantial legal costs of the case.