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Lorkin v John Payne t/as J P Racing  QCAT 295
Robert Anthony Lorkin
John Payne t/as J P Racing
Other minor civil dispute matters
23 May 2016
24 August 2016
MINOR CIVIL DISPUTES – MOTOR VEHICLE – motor restoration / modification / upgrading – motor breakdown following completion of work – expectation of functionality of motor – opportunity to rectify – alternative source to rectify – liability for cost of rectification
REASONS FOR DECISION
- By application filed 23 December 2015 Robert Lorkin claims $15,336.50 as the cost of rectification work consequent upon Mr John Payne of J P Racing not having properly or adequately restored and rebuilt the V8 motor in his XR8 Falcon.
Background and Evidence
- Mr Lorkin stated that he took his XR8 Falcon to John Payne of J P Racing to have the V8 motor restored, modified and effectively rebuilt as a street machine. He said Mr Payne had the vehicle for almost two years prior to March 2014 when he finally collected the vehicle paying Mr Payne a total of $21,280.00.
- On Mr Payne’s invoice, dated 3/14 was the heading ‘Summary of restoration & Upgrading work on EB XR8 for Rob Lorkin’. The engine was referred to as being ‘fully rebuilt’. The transmission heading referred to ‘late Ford C4 fully rebuilt’. The heading ‘Fitting & Extras’ referred to amongst other things a ‘microtech engine computer – new battery and hoses belts oils as well as supply of new brake discs and pads’.
- Mr Lorkin said in mid-June 2014 whilst travelling to Tafe the motor failed. He said he had only driven the vehicle perhaps six or so times before the motor failed; that he contacted Mr Payne who at the time was not interested in having the vehicle towed back to his premises; that Mr Payne indicated to him that he couldn’t do anything for three or four months. That being the case Mr Lorkin took the vehicle to Andrew Shapland at Tru Blu Burpengary. He said Mr Shapland found numerous faults with the work done by Mr Payne. He said the motor was properly rebuilt and modified by Mr Shapland at a total cost of $15,336.50. He said he had to borrow funds to pay Mr Shapland to rectify defective workmanship and to get himself back on the road.
- Mr Shapland charged $11,402.60 for rectification/repair to the vehicles motor. As well, Mr Lorkin paid John White Racing Engines & Equipment Pty Ltd $3,133.90 for parts suppled to Mr Shapland necessary for repairs. Finally, Mr Shapland charged $800.00 dyno tuning after the ‘engine rebuild & repairs’.
- In a statement to the Tribunal Mr Payne said that much of Mr Shapland’s costs were ‘incurred removing and refitting equipment that was found to be satisfactory; that the cause of the mechanical problem could be disputed’. He stated:
I recall saying that I wasn’t able to address the problem at this time due to other commitments and to call me in a few months to see what we could arrange as he had moved up to Teelah. Obviously he made the decision to have the work done elsewhere without mentioning it to me until now. Even though with such extensive modifications there can be no warranty implied or given I would have addressed the problem at a convenient time. Theoretically I would have incurred costs in parts and labour to rectify the problem and so I am prepared to offer Rob $5,000.00 as good will to help cover some of his costs. It was his choice to have the problem seen to elsewhere.
- Mr Shapland of Tru Blu Burpengary provided a detailed statement of all work carried out by him to bring the motor back to a fully functional state. He appeared as a witness at hearing.
- In his statement Mr Shapland said ‘its my opinion that the incorrect timing chain has been installed in this engine’, suggesting that such was a major course of engine failure. In evidence, he said costs incurred were necessary to diagnose the end fault. He confirmed his opinion that the wiring was dangerous, well below industry standards and done in a manner lacking adequate insulation likely to cause short circuits and/or fire. He added that he re-used as many components as possible. Mr Lorkin said that Mr Payne had installed a Holden mapping program in the on-board computer and that such was an additional complication.
- Mr Lorkin took his XR8 Falcon to Mr Payne to have the motor restored and rebuilt to street machine standard. Mr Payne had the vehicle for an extended length of time some two years and charged Mr Lorkin a hefty $21,280.00 for his work.
- The Tribunal accepts Mr Lorkin’s evidence the vehicle broke down a few months subsequent to collection and after having only been driven on relatively few occasions.
- The Tribunal also accepts that Mr Lorkin contacted Mr Payne who indicated he was not able to assist at that time; that he could not attend to Mr Lorkin’s vehicle with some three or four months. That is confirmed in Mr Payne’s statement when he said ‘Call me in a few months to see what we could arrange’. Mr Payne was given an opportunity to rectify the motor’s breakdown which occurred very shortly after completion of works by him.
- It is not sufficient for Mr Payne to say that he would have addressed the problem at a convenient time. In those circumstances, Mr Lorkin was entitled to take the vehicle to another workshop to have motor made functional and for the cost of that rectification/repair work to be at Mr Payne’s expense.
- Nor is it good enough for Mr Payne to latterly argue that the cause of the mechanical problem could be disputed. Mr Shapland’s statement and evidence make it clear that it took some doing to diagnose faults and rectify/repair them.
- It is trite to say that diagnosing breakdowns in modern more sophisticated motors can be a laborious process of elimination.
- The fact that other disturbing issues such as faulty wiring was identified along the way only exacerbates the situation.
- Mr Payne suggested that with extensive modifications, no warranty can be implied or given. That flies in the face of the $21,280.00 hefty charge by Mr Payne for his work. There was a reasonable expectation that the modifications would be carried with due skill and care and that the motor would function in an enhanced restored stated. That did not happen here.
- There is some degree of admission in Mr Payne’s statement in that he offered $5,000.00 as good will. That is not enough. It does not compensate Mr Lorkin for the extra expense he has been put to as a direct result of engine failure.
- The Tribunal finds that Mr Lorkin ought to be fully compensated for his additional cost in having the motor brought back to the operational standard he was entitled to expect in the first instance when he collected the vehicle from Mr Payne. The Tribunal accepts Mr Shapland’s invoices for work done and Mr Lorkin’s expenditure directly to John White Racing Engines & Equipment Pty Ltd. The application fee of $305.00 is allowed.
- Published Case Name:
Lorkin v John Payne t/as J P Racing
- Shortened Case Name:
Lorkin v John Payne
 QCAT 295
24 Aug 2016