Lemon Law: Righting a vehicle deal gone wrong

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Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,
What is the Lemon Law? I heard it being mentioned in the office. My officemate told me that we could return a vehicle to the dealer if there is a defect in it. Is my officemate right? Can you give me more information on this law?
Sincerely yours,
Samantha

Dear Samantha,
Republic Act (RA) 10642 or the Philippine Lemon Law is applicable to your query. Section 3 (h) of this law states:
“(h) Lemon Law rights period refers to the period ending twelve (12) months after the date of the original delivery of a brand- new motor vehicle to a consumer or the first twenty thousand (20,000) kilometers of operation after such delivery, whichever comes first. This shall be the period during which the consumer can report any non-conformity, as defined in paragraph (k) herein, to the standards and specifications of the manufacturer, authorized distributor, authorized dealer or retailer, and pursue any right as provided for under this Act;”
Under the law, a consumer or someone who bought a vehicle has 12 months or the first 20,000 kilometers, whichever comes first, within which to report any non-conformity as defined under the law to the manufacturer, authorized distributor, authorized dealer or retailer.

The definition of non-conformity under Section 3 (k) of the law is:

“k) Non-conformity refers to any defect or condition that substantially impairs the use, value or safety of a brand-new motor vehicle which prevents it from conforming to the manufacturer’s or distributor’s standards or specifications, which cannot be repaired, but excluding conditions resulting from non-compliance by the consumer of his or her obligations under the warranty, modifications not authorized by the manufacturer or distributor, abuse or neglect and damage due to accident or force majeure;”


Thus, the defect that the law mentions is one which substantially impairs the use, value or safety of a brand-new motor vehicle which prevents it from conforming to the manufacturer’s or distributor’s standards or specifications, which cannot be repaired. These do not include those which are caused by the consumer himself because of modifications, abuse or neglect, damage to accident or force majeure or unforeseeable circumstances.

Again, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated.
We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.

Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to dearpao@manilatimes.net

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