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Old 10 December 2011, 15:49   #1
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Being pursued regarding 'stolen' rib 7 years later?? - Help!

I need some help and direction please ....

I have today received a letter from a solicitor telling me that in 14 days time they will take action against me.

Apparently a rib which I bought in September 2004 and sold in May 2005 was a stolen boat.

I certainly didn't steal it and I am pretty sure the chap I bought it from didn't either - I am currently trying to track him down ...

The chap I sold it to has apparently had a deal to sell it for £9995 and this fell through when the buyer found out that the rib is on a stolen boat register.

I am now being pursued for this £9995...

I don't really know where to start with this - can anyone point me in the right direction - either by way of advice, or tell me of a legal specialist that can help?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 10 December 2011, 16:12   #2
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If you were simply a private individual I would suggest getting down to cab on Monday, as you are a trader I am not sure if they can help and you may need to get professional legal advice.
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Old 10 December 2011, 16:23   #3
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Hi

This was a rib I bought privately myself, long before became a trader...

I did all the normal checks - bought it at the chaps (very nice) house, etc. My suspicion is that he unwittingly bought a stolen boat and then in all innocence passed it on to me...

CAB is an option, but I wondered if anyone had any more specialist legal knowledge?

Thanks
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Old 10 December 2011, 16:24   #4
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Sad thing is I think your liable and would have to recover your losses via civil action from the person you bought it from. Time does not come into it. If he can prove you sold him that boat (ie that the bill of sale has the h.i.n etc on it) he's in a good position. Was the letter the first you knew of the theft issue or has your buyer been in contact already ? Could it not be a scam ?

Give us some more info and we may be able to offer advice. There is a legal boffin on here too who may be along with legal facts.

Some points to make us aware of though to start

1) What boat was it
2) Did you do any checks yourself prior to buying, if so what
3) When, where was it stolen and when did you become aware if that fact
4) What was your selling price

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Old 10 December 2011, 16:26   #5
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the same thing happenned tp a friend of mine he bought a boat of a website sold it 2 owners down the line it's a stolen boat he got together with all the other vendors and they made an offer of compensation

I wont mention him by name but I will send you his contact details by PM
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Old 10 December 2011, 16:44   #6
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The boat was a 2001 Avon 560 Adventure with a Yamaha 115 and Bramber trailer.

I bought the boat from the chaps house / barn, and visted him there twice and went into his home. He was obviously the owner of the house (recent checks on Zoopla etc confirm). He had various service bills etc in his name. All of this gave me confidence that he had been the owner for the previous two years. i didnt check the history prior to his ownership ...

I dont have any information at the moment about the alleged theft, or what database it is recorded on. These are some of the questions I have for the solicitors who contacted me.
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Old 10 December 2011, 16:55   #7
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You need to make sure it's the buyer you sold it to making the claim. I'd have thought a buyer who then discovered he bought a stolen boat would have first contacted you, or the police but from what you say the letter was the first you were aware of any issue. Either way he can only sue you for what he paid for it. I'm assuming he paid more than the £9,995 he was trying to re-sell it for 5 years later so I'm confused as to why he's not claiming his full purchase price back ?

Speak with your solicitor but don't make any offers/payments in the mean time or accept any liability. Wait for the advice.

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Old 10 December 2011, 17:05   #8
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Have you checked the stolen boat register to make sure you're not being had?
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Old 10 December 2011, 17:11   #9
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I have looked on stolenboats.org and cant immediately identify the boat from any of the Avon rib descriptions on there ... ??

Are there any other databases I should / could check?

Anyone know of a specialist solicitor in the Southampton area with knowledge in this field?
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Old 10 December 2011, 17:14   #10
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Either way he can only sue you for what he paid for it. I'm assuming he paid more than the £9,995 he was trying to re-sell it for 5 years later so I'm confused as to why he's not claiming his full purchase price back ?
Because he has "enjoyed" it for 7 yrs and his loss is really only the loss of ability to sell the boat now for its current (unstolen) value.

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I dont have any information at the moment about the alleged theft, or what database it is recorded on. These are some of the questions I have for the solicitors who contacted me.
Well obviously they will need to prove that the boat is stolen, but I wouldn't be rushing to speak to the solicitors until you have sought professional advice yourself.

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Hi

This was a rib I bought privately myself, long before became a trader...

CAB is an option, but I wondered if anyone had any more specialist legal knowledge?
CAB will probably not have dealt with a stolen boat before, but it will be similar to stolen cars which they will have some idea about. I'd always be wary of legal advice dolled out on internet forums as there is absolutely no recourse against crap advice.

The RYA also have a legal department who would be able to offer advice if you are a member (you can join online today!).

On the positive side, it sounds like if your seller is still there then you might stand a reasonable chance of recovering any liability you have from him in due course. Because you probably want to involve a lawyer in that process (even if he is cooperative) it may be as well to engage professional help sooner rather than later.
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Old 10 December 2011, 17:19   #11
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I will almost certainly see a solicitor next week, and as you say before I reply to the solicitor who sent me the demanding letter...

RYA may be a good option too. Thanks
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Old 10 December 2011, 18:30   #12
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Provided this isn't a scam, I think you are out of luck. The boat will belong to someone, the owner before it was stolen or perhaps their insurance company if they paid out. But, it never belonged to you to sell so you have taken money from a person in exchange for something which you didn't own. I reckon you'll owe that money back. The fact that you did this innocently won't matter. You, of course, are due your money back from the person who sold it to you. The boat can be removed from the present holder by it's rightful owner or the police on their behalf.

There may be a possible settlement available. If the boat belongs to an insurance company they may be willing to sell it to the present holder. The cost of this purchase may be very reasonable and it might be that you could pay the present holder this money (Or the insurance company on his/her behalf.) and that may prove to be a cheaper option. Alternatively, you may be able to buy the boat from the insurance company and reimberse the present holder their money which you wrongly took from them. At least you'll then have a boat to sell to cut your losses. That's all a bit less likely though.

Be creative, I'm pretty sure an insurance company won't particularly want it. If the present holder is creative, he/she may sting you for their money, buy the boat from the insurance company and sell it with some profit. The person from whom it was stolen may want it back, though, if it wasn't insured, so you may end up up shit creek. It's a bit of a messy situation. Good luck.
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Old 10 December 2011, 18:38   #13
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if it wasn't insured so you may end up up shit creek.
Do you mean that he'll have to pay the original owner the balance of the value of the RIB at the time of the theft AND reimburse the current "owner" for his loss too?
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Old 10 December 2011, 18:45   #14
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Do you mean that he'll have to pay the original owner the balance of the value of the RIB at the time of the theft AND reimburse the current "owner" for his loss too?
No, the original owner gets his rib back but I think the chain of payment from each illegal owner would be repayable one to the next. I guess each would be handling stolen goods but if it was all done innocently no action is likely to be taken... except the actual thief.
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Old 10 December 2011, 18:46   #15
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So if it is not on the register then how did new buyer find out is was stolen? I'd want to know, I've used it to check three motors and a rib so if there are registered stolen boats not on it then it's completely useless.

Since I've got into RIBs I've come across more scams than any other field, they're everywhere, wouldn't surprise me at all if someone it trying it on - before you lay out any legal costs I'd ask to see some proof of ownership and a crime number for when the boat was originally stolen.

Really hope you get it sorted, good luck.
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Old 11 December 2011, 02:41   #16
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I would also be asking if there is a statute of time to reclaim. There must be stated cases over the time period in relation to innocent buyers
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Old 11 December 2011, 07:20   #17
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Theft is a criminal offence not a civil matter ..... why are the police not involved?

You have proof of purchase, do they have proof of theft?

Many boats are identical in design and general arrangement and unless they have inspected the boat, checking HIN and serial numbers they can't possibly have proof its the stolen boat.

Don't forget if an insurance company paid out then they should be instructing the solicitor not the original owner. The original owner got his money and has no claim over it.

Be careful they aint taking the piss.....there are bent solicitors out there!

Also as a top tip make sure you are "reasonable" when dealing with the matter. Listen to the solicitor and don't get drawn into their wild and sensational claims. I regularly deal with a solicitor about criminal matters at work but he has a civil background and his letters are a joke working on the throwing mud approach.

I would suggest you are best getting legal advice, maybe even talk to the police but firstly you would be perfectly within your rights asking them to provide you with details of their claim - ie why do they think you've got a stolen boat and who do they represent?

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Old 11 December 2011, 07:26   #18
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Hang on do you still have the boat?

If you've sold it on why aren't they after the current owner?

Pursuing you as an innocent buyer is a bit vindictive and waste of time if you took reasonable steps to buy it after carrying out checks.

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Old 11 December 2011, 08:15   #19
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Hang on do you still have the boat?

If you've sold it on why aren't they after the current owner?

Pursuing you as an innocent buyer is a bit vindictive and waste of time if you took reasonable steps to buy it after carrying out checks.

Chris
Chris your missing the point. The current owner has tried to sell it and it's been proven to be a stolen boat. If we assume that's correct (rather than a scam) then the current owner has to sue the person/business he bought it from. They then have to sue who they got it from and so on, until the chain leads back to either the person that stole it or the one that handled the first stolen sale, wittingly or not!

It's not a police matter as the OP did not steal it so will not face any convictional charge. That being said he's liable to his buyer once it's proven to be a stolen boat at the time of his sale. His proof of ownership is worthless (other than to prove he bought it in good faith) as it was never his to sell, likewise with the current owner.

The real owner (either the loss adjuster if insurance paid out or the person that owned it when it was stolen if no insurance was in place) can simply come and claim legal rights to it at any time in the future provided they can prove beyond doubt legal ownership. Sold as seen means nothing.

First you need to confirm the solicitor letter is genuine, then that the boat is indeed a stolen one AND was at the time of your sale. Next that the letter is from the Buyer you sold it to (as he may have sold it on and that buyer is using your sales receipt as somebody to claim from) .

As others have advised you may be able to make an agreement with the insurance etc but only if (don't accept any liability until seeking legal advice) your buyer gets his purchase price (or his selling target price if he's reasonable) back from you, until then it's your buyer that has the legal right to buy the boat back as its him that's going to loss out if the boat is recovered, not you as you got your money back on it when you sold it. I say that as he could lose the boat and the money he paid you, at least until you are made to pay him back. At that point you then become the one that's out of pocket, so can either sue the guy you bought it from or offer to buy it back from the L/A at a much reduced price. If you sue the guy you got it from then he can do as above, and so on. It's a Mess!
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Old 11 December 2011, 10:58   #20
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So if it is not on the register then how did new buyer find out is was stolen?
Thats my question too ?
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