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Consider the following scenario:

"Aisha" is the registered keeper of a car she bought on credit.

"Benin" has had control of the car for the last 2 years following his divorce from Aisha.

A few months ago Aisha, as the registered keeper, received reminders that the MOT1 was due to expire which she forwarded to Benin.

Benin said that he tried to get an MOT test but the garage cancelled the appointments.

Despite the MOT expiring, Benin is still driving the car on the road.

If Benin is stopped by the police, what are the legal implications for him and Aisha?

And what options are available to Aisha to protect herself, e.g. forcing a sale of the car?


1In the UK, an MOT is a legally required annual vehicle safety test of road worthiness. Without one you are legally only allowed to drive to one place: An MOT garage to obtain one.

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2 Answers 2

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The relevant offence is at s.47(1) of the Road Traffic Act 1988:

A person who uses on a road at any time, or causes or permits to be so used, a motor vehicle to which this section applies, and as respects which no test certificate has been issued within the appropriate period before that time, is guilty of an offence.

Benin commits an offence as he uses the car on the road, and as not having a valid and current MOT (usually) invalidates motor insurance, the car would in all likelihood be seized under s.165A of the Act.

Aisha may commit an offence if it can be shown that she causes or permits Benin to use the car.  This would hinge on what steps she would reasonably be expected to keep the car off the road and/or prevent Benin from using it such as taking it back (via a pre-arranged MOT appointment to not fall foul of s 47) taking the keys from him or selling it - which she can do as the registered keeper (the credit company is the actual owner).

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    It's fascinating that they can potentially both be liable in this situation due to that wording. I will definitely push Aisha* to resolve the issue as soon as possible. *Thanks for the rename by the way - that certainly made it simpler to read with myself acting as a third party in the question. Oct 28, 2021 at 21:34
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    Bear in mind that "uses" on the road includes parking so, unless Aisha has an off-road space, simply getting the car back in its present state may cause new problems. (and insurance and road tax are likely to also expire at the end of this month, as some anniversary of when the car was bought).
    – Lou Knee
    Oct 29, 2021 at 9:44
  • @LouKnee Good spot! Answer edited accordingly.
    – Rick
    Oct 29, 2021 at 9:48
  • If Aisha has no physical access to the car, then she may not be able to take it (or the keys) back or to sell it (since virtually nobody buys a car sight unseen). In such a case, would her obligation under the law be fulfilled if she were to write to Benin informing him that she has withdrawn her permission for him to use the car?
    – Psychonaut
    Oct 29, 2021 at 9:48
  • @Psychonaut I don't know; I would hope that any of text/e-mail/registered letter would be enough but the sticking point here may be in proving Benin has seen her withdrawal of consent, given that he's already had her (implicit?) consent for two years now.
    – Lou Knee
    Oct 29, 2021 at 16:10
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Is Aisha the legal owner of the car? It sounds like it, but it will depend upon the divorce settlement. This is not the same thing as being the registered keeper with the DVLA. Aisha's solicitor should be able to answer that question.

If it is Aisha's car then she should get Benin to return it. In theory Aisha should be able to just get in and drive off, but best check with the solicitor first.

If it is not her car then she should notify the DVLA that she has transferred it using the form on the V5C registration document. At that point it ceases to be her problem.

If Aisha carries on as the registered keeper and it is her car, she could find yourself liable for things Benin does, including driving it with no MOT, or possibly insurance, or when drunk, on the theory that she let him do it in your car.

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  • She cannot simply get in and drive off because the car has no MOT!
    – psmears
    Oct 29, 2021 at 9:41
  • I was about to say that! Also, she needs to get the the other set of keys.
    – Lou Knee
    Oct 29, 2021 at 9:47
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    @psmears Good point. You can legally drive a car to a pre-booked MOT, so Aisha should book an MOT before picking the car up. Oct 29, 2021 at 9:54
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    A flatbed truck should be an option as well.
    – fraxinus
    Oct 29, 2021 at 11:45

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