• John Mills

Gold Coast Man Imprisoned for Unlicenced Motor Dealing

Source: Office of Fair Trading - November 2016

An unlicensed Gold Coast motor dealer has been imprisoned and ordered to pay over $37,000 in fines and costs by the Southport Magistrates Court after being charged by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) for the second time. ​

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Paul David Smith was found guilty of acting as an unlicensed motor dealer, and the Court invoked an earlier suspended sentence (on an unrelated matter) of three months imprisonment. Mr Smith was further sentenced to four months imprisonment, wholly suspended for two years.

Mr Smith was fined $20,000 after being found guilty of four counts of making false and misleading representations under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL). Costs of $17,172 were awarded against Mr Smith. The fine and costs are to be paid within six months, with six months imprisonment in default. Convictions were recorded on all counts.

The court heard that between January 2013 and February 2014, Mr Smith, while unlicensed, sold seven vehicles to consumers via car sales websites under various names. Mr Smith also misrepresented the history of vehicles on two occasions by failing to disclose their previous status as write-offs, and twice claimed a false affiliation with vehicle manufacturers.

The offences were detected by the OFT during a targeted compliance operation against unlicensed motor dealers, using, amongst other things, sales activity records from car sales websites.

In sentencing, the court considered Mr Smith’s intent to deceive consumers for his own gain, his previous conviction for similar offences and his failure to cooperate with the OFT’s investigation.

Businesses are not allowed to make statements that are incorrect or likely to create a false impression. There are rules around advertising, product packaging, any statement made by a person representing your business and online shopping services. There are fines for business that mislead consumers.

More information about false and misleading representation is available on the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission website or download the ACL guide Avoiding unfair business practices – a guide for businesses and legal practitioners. To order a hard copy, visit www.qld.gov.au/fairtrading or call 13 QGOV (13 74 68).