OFT - Small Print Must Not Vary Contract

Posted: 14th March 2011

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has issued a paper on unfair contracts, making it clear that for a consumer contract to be fair, it must mean what the customer thinks it means.
Companies that hide significant contractual clauses in the small print are therefore likely to find that the OFT will support a challenge to the contract on the basis that it is unfair (and thus unenforceable) if the effect of the small print is to change the meaning of the contract to something other than a reasonable person would have thought it meant.
The OFT claims that 70 per cent of its enforcement work on behalf of consumers relates to the terms and conditions contained in contracts.
The OFT advises businesses to review the paper and to consider whether changes are necessary in their contracts in order to make them comply with the law and with the OFT's definitions of fairness.