Office of Fair Trading
30 July 2013 by Tony Fisher
The Office of Fair Trading has launched an Unfair Terms Hub to provide information to businesses in relation to the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 (“UTCCR”).
The hub has three levels of information: quick (ready to use materials for a quick understanding of the UTCCRs); detailed (materials explaining specific areas of the UTCCRs and practical tips); and guidance (OFT’s existing unfair terms guidance and examples). The hub was developed to provide businesses with easy access to relevant materials to help compliance with the UTCCRs.
The UTCCRs were created in order to protect consumers against unfair standard terms in contracts they make with traders. The Office of Fair Trading, together with certain other bodies, can take legal action to prevent the use of such terms.
In brief a term is unfair if it is contrary to the requirement of good faith and it causes a significant imbalance in the parties’ rights and obligations under the contract, to the detriment of consumers. ‘Good faith’ means that a business must deal fairly and openly with consumers. Standard terms may be drafted to protect commercial needs but must also take account of the interests and rights of consumers by going no further than is necessary to protect those legitimate commercial interests.
In addition, in accordance with the UTCCRs, a standard term must be expressed in plain and intelligible language. A term is open to challenge if it could put the consumer at a disadvantage because he or she is not clear about its meaning – even if its meaning could be worked out by a lawyer. If there is doubt as to what a term means, the meaning most favourable to the consumer will apply.
If you would like some assistance in finding out what terms are covered by the UTCCRs give us a call today or pay a visit to the hub website: http://oft.gov.uk/business-advice/unfairterms/