Whats The Difference Between Legal Ownership & Registered Keeper

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PMSC69 | 23:00 Sat 14th Aug 2010 | Law
20 Answers

I am in a stickt situation here. I had declared bankruptcy recently and my official receiver wanted to take my car as an asset. Because my mum relies on me taking her to the shops and hospital visits (registered disabled) she insisted that she buyed the car off me and pass the cheque to the official receivers. This was the Official Receivers option to me and advice.

All that is done but now comes my tricky bit and please correct me if I am wrong. My mum is now the legal owner of the car but the log book remains in my name as the registered keeper. As far as I know this is legal to keep the car with the log book under my name. My mum has a receipt from the Insolvency saying that the car is hers. Now to insure the car is not a problem as long as I notify them that I dont own the car but am the registered keeper of the vehicle. Doing this means that the insuram rate is at my normal cost. Otherwise placing the log book under my mums name means that my premium will be £1900. I am 41 and have driven since 18 with 12 years no claims bonus.

The question is can I by law keep the log book under my name as the keeper and my mum still being the owner. This stupid little incident for my car which is only worth a few hundred pounds has begun to cause problems between us as I am aurguing that it is legal and the Insolvency receipt means that she now owns the car but my mum is afraid that she will be in trouble if I dont give her the log book as the registed keeper.

Many thanks in advance



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The registered keeper is not the owner.
The registered keeper is the person responsible for the car, the point of contact for the police and dvla.
It is wholly correct that Mum can be the owner and you be the registered keeper.
My insurers have never asked if I owned any of my cars, but have always asked if I'm the registered keeper.
You are correct.
The legal owner owns the asset - the car.
The registered keeper is the person recorded by the DVLA as such.
It is perfectly OK to maintain these as two different people.
If your mum still doesn't believe you, try explaining that if the car was being bought under a fiance arrangement, the legal owner is the finance company but the registered keeper is the person using the vehicle.
Question Author
Thanks for your quick responses guys. I am amazed, never seen it done this quick. But to reassure my mum, can anyone direct me to a link or legal site that states this because I am now feeling nasty as I dont want to pass the log book but dont want to fall out over a car. She is worried that if anything has gone wrong that she will have to answer for it but doesnt get my drift about ownership and RK.

Many thanks again
This sounds similar to company cars which are owned by company but allocated to specific staff who will probably be regarded as the registered keepers.
Please consider the situation that applies to thousands (or probably hundreds of thousands, if not millions) of company cars, as illustrated below:

Fred Smith works for Acme Thingummies Ltd. They provide him with a company car, which they actually lease from Arthur Daley Leasing. In order to ensure that any speeding tickets are sent to the correct person, Fred Smith is the registered keeper, despite the fact that Arthur Daley Leasing Ltd remain the owner of the vehicle (and that their client is Acme Thingummies).

The situation I've described above is perfectly normal and applies to many, many cars. Not only is it 'normal' but it's also perfectly legal. Any insurance policy, based upon such arrangements, will be valid as long as the insured person has answered all questions on the proposal form accurately.

You've asked for a quote, from a relevant 'official' website. How about this one, from the DVLA?
"The V5C is not proof of ownership as DVLA records keepers and not owners"

Will she believe the police?

As an example many business / wealthy people cannot drive for various reasons but own luxury cars driven entirely by the chauffeur, who is ther registered keeper.

Disabled people who have cars on the mobility scheme are the registered keepers but not the owners.
Question Author
Thanks for the great response so far.

I think her main concern is that its the Insolvecy Service that is involved. But as far as I am aware, through them I sold my car and legal ownership to her but this does not change anything.

To be honest though, I think my Official Examiner could advise me on this but all he wants is assets regardless if its only worth £50 or £20k

Thanks again
What price is your car which you state is only worth a few hundred pounds,
If its not worth much they wont recover it because it would be to much trouble and expensive to take?

They usually only let you keep the car if it stops you from earning a living.
Question Author
The car is only worth 900£ but they will take any car I own even if its only worth £50. The fact the a car has to be worth more than 1k is a mythe and why these debt advisors say otherwise beats me.
I think the only problem you might have is if anyone decides you are hiding assets from the receiver; eg selling your Rolls Royce for £10 to your mother.
Also, I believe that once you have been declared bankrupt you are not entitled to sell or buy anything without prior approval.
Question Author
That is correct but the car has been sold through the insolvency service which means that they used me to sell the on their behalf. I cant own the car but I can drive the car or any other car as long as i dont legally own it. Also the cheque was written out to them for the value that they wanted for the car. In short, they offered me the option for a friend or relative to buy it with their authorisation as long as the buyer pays them direct which is the case. This saves them time and guarantees them money.

Forget debt advisers. Here are the actual instructions given to receivers when deciding whether or not a bankrupt person should be allowed to keep a vehicle or not:

Question Author
Any car owner who has gone bankrupt will understand the procedure. Also, I have to sign declarations before selling the car and the receivers write to the new owner stating that the car has been purchased from them through me and that they are not held liable for any damages or faults on the vehicle.
Question Author
Thats right Buenchico the car can be exempt if I work nights, in airports, required for my work or part of a disability allowance. Otherwise any car of any age, state and value can be taken as a valuable asset if under the bankruptees name. Obviously anything sold or given away prior to declaring bankrupt will be seen as fraud and is taken very seriously.
Everyone seems to agree, as do I - registered keeper does not equal legal owner. As long as your mother has an official receipt for what she paid (either from you or from the insolvency people), then there's very little disputing of ownership. Think of a travelling salesman who has a company car. The salesman is the registered keeper and is responsible for day-to-day running and maintenance (and, as has been said, the point of contact for police/DVLA). However, the company will retain ownership.

My mum used to own 'my' car, which we used for similar reasons to you and yours, i.e. she disabled and I driving her around, plus keeping the car for my own use. There was never any question of transferring the documents into her name and it was never questioned by the DLA people, either.

Can you not get your insolvency adviser to write to your mother advising her of the situation?
In addition to previous comments, the DVLA actively seeks to distance itself from disputes of legal title and over the years has ensured that registration documents make no reference to ownership.

A 2002 consultation on EC harmonisation of vehicle registration documents broaches this issue and makes DVLA's position pretty clear...

"5.1 The DVLA register is one of vehicle keeper-ship and not ownership. The
vehicle keeper is the person normally responsible for keeping/using the vehicle. That
person is not necessarily the legal owner but in the vast majority of cases, the keeper
and owner will often be the same person.

5.2 The purpose of the vehicle register is to enable the licensing authority and
enforcement agencies to trace the person responsible for the vehicle. It is therefore
proposed that the vehicle keeper will continue to be recorded on the register and
shown on the document.

5.3 In addition, to recording the vehicle keeper, it has been suggested that the new
document should also show the legal owner. This would effectively transform the
document into one of legal title and could inevitably lead to disputes over legal
title/ownership. We believe that the case has not been made to record ownership
details on the register and propose not to include such details."
Question Author
Thanks for for the detailed information. This has made a huge difference on things and the cost of running it. Typically the insurance companies tried to say that the car and log book is in her name leading me to believe that that was the only way.

Thanks again guys
No you cant Paul,your mum is not the legal owner,just because she has a receipt off the insolvency company does not make her legal owner.The owner of your car aswell as mine and everyone else is the registering your car you are giving up ownership rights on the car,they then send you back the V5 which quite clearly states you as keeper,not owner.So you Paul are the keeper but your mother neither keeper or owner.

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