Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Am I allowed to hold on to property if I am owed money?

Q: I am a mechanic and have done a lot of work to fix up one fellow's car, which was almost written off in a car crash. He doesn't have insurance and the accident was his fault, so insurance won't pay me. He's making noises about not being able to pay. Can I keep his car if he doesn't?

A: Short answer: not in South Australia. The Office of Consumer and Business Affairs there can clarify further. However, any parts installed onto his car remain your property until he has paid for them. So if, say, you had to install a new distributor cap, you could remove and keep that part until he was prepared to pay. FYI: holding on to property until an obligation is discharged is called a 'lien'.

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