LawAnswers.com.au - Australia's #1 Legal Community

LawAnswers.com.au is a community of 10,000+ Australians, just like you, helping each other.
Ask a question, respond to a question and better understand the law today!
Join us, it only takes a minute:

QLD Is an "Authority to Tow" Son's Car a Legal Document?

Discussion in 'Australian Consumer Law Forum' started by Paul Jackson, 17 August 2016.

Tags:
  1. Paul Jackson

    Paul Jackson Member

    Joined:
    17 August 2016
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    My 19-year-old son was involved in a car accident. The scene was attended by a tow truck company who said to my son that the car has to be towed as it is now unroadworthy. My son signed the "Authority to Tow" and called me on the phone.

    I spoke to my son asking, "has the tow truck driver hook up the car yet?". My son said no. I asked to speak to the tow truck driver and I told him not to tow the car (I have a friend with a flat bed truck). The tow truck driver said that as he had signed the authority to tow form it was a legal document. I asked him had he hooked up the car? He replied no.

    I said "then don't tow the car". He said that as he had swept the road that the tow had commenced.
    He refused to cancel the tow and took the car.

    My question is, can an "Authority to Tow" form be cancelled? it is my opinion that the form is just authorising the tow not a contract and can be cancelled.

    Please assist.
     
  2. Tim W

    Tim W Lawyer

    Joined:
    28 April 2014
    Messages:
    1,723
    Likes Received:
    405
    In the first instance, not by somebody who didn't sign it (so no, not you).

    Second question - What makes you think that it isn't a contract?
     
  3. Paul Jackson

    Paul Jackson Member

    Joined:
    17 August 2016
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hi Tim.

    Thanks for the response.

    Firstly, I forgot in my initial thread to state that I (and my wife) am the registered owner of the car.

    In the first phone call I received from my son, he told me he had been told that as the tow driver had cleared the road, he was entitled to tow the car (Cohesion? perhaps). In that phone call, I told my son to cancel the tow as we could arrange a friend to tow the car. The Tow driver refused. By this time, my wife arrived and I told her on the phone to cancel the tow. She was told the same story.

    I then spoke to the Driver myself and was given the same story but including the statement that he "moved the car from the road to the shoulder". My son and wife said this was untrue, the driver watched for oncoming traffic while my son. wife and another motorist moved the car.

    I again stated as the owner, I did not want the car towed.

    Why don't I think it's a contract?

    The act describes the "Authority to tow" as an agreement to tow the car. If it is a agreement, an agreement can be rescinded. (Usually before the works agreed to are commenced) The agreement was to tow the car, Not clean the road (That comes under the Qld Transport requirements to clear the debris.) so clearing the road does not constitute the tow being commenced

    Also, A "Contract" Must disclose all terms and conditions associated with the said Contract. The Authority to tow has no terms at all, and certainly none stating that once signed, It cannot be revoked. Therefore, the Tow company cannot inject its own opinions into the agreement that are not disclosed on the Agreement.

    Your thoughts, please?
     
  4. Tim W

    Tim W Lawyer

    Joined:
    28 April 2014
    Messages:
    1,723
    Likes Received:
    405
    Who arranged the tow?
    By which I mean
    • was it a police nominated tow truck (in NSW you sometimes hear that called a "rostered tow"); or
    • did the towie just turn up out of nowhere; or
    • was it arranged, by, say, RACQ or maybe the insurer?
    As to it being a contract....
    Let's first remember that you (Dad) are not a party to the towing arrangement.
    So, you are not somebody who could rescind it anyway.

    Then, let's remember that your son is an adult (and therefore capable of contracting), and
    that he was the person in charge of the car (he was driving it).

    Taking those things together, I am inclined to the view that it is reasonable to infer from the conduct of the parties
    that a contract has been made between your son and the towie.
    That it is not in writing (or that the "writing" is brief) is not relevant to its existence.
    Case law tells us that if the parties act as though a contract exists, then it does.

    And I assume you mean "coercion". And no.
     
  5. Paul Jackson

    Paul Jackson Member

    Joined:
    17 August 2016
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hi Tim

    The tow trucks just turned up at the scene. I have spoken to the other car owner. She did not call the tow truck. The drivers monitor the police radios, I suspect that is how they arrived.

    You have stated (correctly) that I was not involved in the signing and so, therefore, cannot rescind the authority. My son (at my direction) also told the driver not to tow the car. He received the same answer about cleaning the road, etc.

    I still tend to disagree with you though as in the past I have cancelled proper contracts with no issues at all. The last cancellation was when I had sold my house and contracted a removal company to pack and move my household items. The sale fell through at the last minute, and I cancelled the removalist with no repercussions at all (we had a signed contract).

    Tim, are you aware of any specific case history in the respect of cancelling a agreement?

    Cheers.

    And again, thanks for your input into this
     
  6. Tim W

    Tim W Lawyer

    Joined:
    28 April 2014
    Messages:
    1,723
    Likes Received:
    405
    Any contract can be terminated by mutual consent of the parties.
    That's how, for example, you get to return things to K-Mart for a change-of-mind refund.

    There is no sign of mutual consent to terminate in your towing question. Indeed, by starting to sweep, the towie seems to have already part performed the contract.
    When you say "agreement", are you referring to cases of successfully revoking an Authority To Tow? In Queensland?
    No.
    In any event, if there was mutual consent to terminate, then there would be no case, because there is no dispute.
     

Share This Page

Loading...