Are your terms and conditions good enough to stop you paying out £1.7m?

Are your terms and conditions good enough to stop you paying out £1.7m? 

This was the question the court had to decide in yesterday’s case where an online Blackjack player successfully sued Betfred for the £1.7 million jackpot that he ‘won’. Betfred denied the player was entitled to the winnings, claiming there was a software error, and relied on their terms and conditions for protection.The court held that the terms and conditions were poorly drafted and confusing. There was no clear carve out of liability which covered the circumstances of this case.

Moreover, given that the player is a private individual (and hence treated as a consumer), the terms and conditions did not satisfy the Consumer Rights Act 2015, which requires the terms to be transparent and fair. The obscurity of the language, the context of the contract, and the failure adequately to signpost the exclusion clauses and explain their consequences to the player, caused the court to find that the terms and conditions did not protect Betfred.Contrast this with a very similar case in which Carl Holmes and I represented Eurobet a few years ago.

In this case, an online gambler, Mr Venturi, ‘won’ circa £650k on an online lotto game called Sixty Seconds. The High Court determined that the terms and conditions were clear, and there was a carve out of liability for software errors, allowing Eurobet to void the bets and escape any further liability other than paying the bets back. Mr Venturi was denied his winnings because they were regarded as a windfall.Contracts, and general terms and conditions, are often pretty low down on the priority list for operators and businesses in general. When one contrasts these two cases, the inevitable conclusion is that it is worth spending time on the small print! All operators and businesses should reflect on this decision and consider whether their terms and conditions, and the way that they are incorporated into a contract (or not as the case may be), do actually give adequate protection.

For more information please speak to Philippa Dempster or Carl Holmes.


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