Who’d buy a car which bursts into flames?
The owner of a rather expensive foreign motor car wished to reject it after 10 months, because it was constantly bursting into flames. The dealer refused to take it back, but the importers recognized that the publicity would be very bad if the matter came to court.
The downside if mediation failed
The buyer was furious; this very expensive car had burst into flames several times, once in the garage when their home was almost lost. The car was a present for his wife; they had other cars. He was determined to take the matter all the way to achieve satisfaction.
As Chris met the importers, it immediately became clear that they were desperate to keep the matter out of court, for the reputational damage would have been enormous. They immediately offered to replace the car with a new identical one. In the buyer’s room, that went down like a lead balloon.
So the importers said they also imported another make of exclusive car, far more expensive. They offered to provide a new one at wholesale price, even though the buyer said he would immediately sell it at a profit.
The true needs of the parties
This offer was accepted. Both sides were better off. The buyer had got rid of a troublesome car and could make a lot of money out of the new one, and the reputation of the first make of car was preserved. This is exactly the kind of dispute where the Court of Appeal pleaded for mediation to be used more often, as in Egan –v Motor Services (Bath) Ltd.