According to the Parker-Grennan v Camelot UK Lotteries 2023 High Court Case, having website terms and conditions in place which pass common law and statutory transparency and fairness tests could save you £1,000,000. The High Court has recently declined to grant summary judgement in a case against the National Lottery operator, Camelot, for £1,000,000.
On 25 August 2015, Joan Parker-Grennan bought a £5 Instant Win Game ticket for playing the online game. The rules of the game stated that if the numbers in the player’s section match the numbers in the winning section, the set of matching numbers will turn white on the screen and indicate that the player has won the prize designated by those matching numbers. When Mrs Parker-Grennan played her ticket, the screen displayed a message saying: “Congratulations, you have won £10”. Due to a coding error in the software responsible for the animated display, another set of two numbers with a designated prize of £1,000,000 also appeared on the screen.
According to the description of the Game Procedures, the matching numbers should have flashed on the screen in order for Mrs Parker-Grennan to have won the £1,000,000 prize. Camelot refused to pay the larger amount in addition to the £10 prize by relying on their website terms and conditions. The website terms stated that the conclusive amount won by any player will be the amount shown on the final screen display and on Camelot’s official list of winning numbers, and these terms had been accepted by Mrs Parker Grennan prior to her playing. Therefore, they argued that any amount as shown on the interim animated display will be considered irrelevant in determining the exact prize won by a player.
The Judge dismissed Mrs Parker-Grennan’s application for summary judgment and concluded that the website terms and conditions had been properly incorporated in the online contract by means of hyperlinks and drop-down terms and were drafted in a clear manner. The terms, as relied on by Camelot, were also not found to be unfair for the purpose of the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 (SI 1999/2083) (which is the applicable Regulation before the Consumer Rights Act 2015 came into effect).
This decision should represent a reminder to not overlook the importance of your website terms and conditions. While these are not required by law per se, they are a great tool to limit future liabilities and determine the limits of the relationship between website providers and any customers / visitors. To ensure a binding online agreement, particular attention should also be given to the fairness and transparency rules applicable to contractual terms and conditions. Drafting website terms which are comprehensible and understandable to the consumer promotes transparency, and therefore reduces the risk of consumers challenging the binding force of that agreement by relying on unfairness.
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