In Jersey, if you buy a used car, either from a dealer or privately, you are still largely strictly on your own. Although the Supply of Goods and Services (Jersey) Law of 2009 goes some way to offering buyers protection at the time of sale, without the wide-ranging sale of goods legislation that exists in the United Kingdom on the local statute books, there is no ongoing legal protection for the buyer unless the vehicle carries a warranty (today better known as a mechanical breakdown insurance) and even one of these is subject to all sorts of caveats. Although the new legislation gives the customer a greater degree of protection than existed prior to 2009 the only real protection currently offered to a buyer is available from members of the Jersey Motor Trades Federation.
There have been trade associations connected with the motor vehicle almost since the internal combustion engine replaced the horse. However the current Jersey Motor Trades Federation was founded as recently as 1992, supplanting the Jersey Motor Trades Association which itself had been established in the mid-1970s.
The primary purpose of the Federation is to represent the interests of motor traders in the Island in their dealings with their customers, legislators and government, training bodies, trades unions and the general public and to work for the enhancement of the image of the industry, the promotion of its interests and business, and the development and maintenance of industry standards.
Members of the Jersey Motor Trades Federation abide by a Code of Practice which governs the conduct of motor dealers in relation to the supply of new and used cars, fuel, parts and accessories and car repairs and servicing, and embodies principles which have been observed by the majority of traders in the industry for many years.
This local code is based on the Code of Conduct drawn up for the motor industry in the United Kingdom by the Retail Motor Industry Federation, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders and the Scottish Motor Trades Federation in consultation with the Director General of the Office of Fair Trading. Much of the Code has, in Britain, the force of law which is absent in Jersey but local dealers are encouraged to act, in their relations with their customers, as though such laws do exist.
The Federation regards it as a duty laid on its members that they will accept this Code in its entirety. A customer who feels dissatisfied with the treatment he has received from a Federation member can submit his grievance to the conciliation and advisory service operated by the Federation. In Jersey, with its lack of consumer legislation, dealers applying the tenets of the code are often the only after sales protection a customer has.
A majority of motor traders in the Island belong to the Federation and thus abide by the Code of Practice and the JMTF works closely with the Driver & Vehicle Standards and Trading Standards Departments to ensure that its Code of Practice reflects current regulations which, with the advent of the European Union and its involvement in local affairs, are constantly changing.
Although the Federation exists primarily to protect the interests of its members, it has also set out to ensure that there are also specific benefits for customers too. Being good to our customers is good for business. Thus if Jersey motorists deal with JMTF members they can be reassured that if anything goes wrong, there is a trade body that is also prepared to pursue their interests.”