April 19, 2024

Case Study: The Crucial Role of Terms and Conditions

Written by Jonathan Kurtz-Shefford
Posted in ,
Case Study: The Crucial Role of Terms and Conditions

In a riveting legal battle that captured public attention, Camelot, the operator of the UK National Lottery, recently demonstrated the power of well-crafted terms and conditions (T&Cs) in defending against a high-stakes claim. 

This case underscores the critical importance of robust T&Cs for businesses in mitigating risks and clarifying obligations.

The dispute originated when a player believed she had won £1 million due to a display error in Camelot’s online lottery game. In reality, the player had only matched numbers corresponding to a £10 win, but a coding glitch also mistakenly displayed numbers for a £1 million prize. 

When the excitement turned to disappointment after Camelot refused to pay the £1 million, citing their T&Cs, the player decided to take legal action.

The claimant argued that the game’s screen instructions, which prompted players to “Match any of the winning numbers,” constituted a binding agreement that she was entitled to both the £10 and £1 million wins. The initial claim was dismissed, leading the claimant to appeal to the High Court.

During the appeal, it was pivotal to note that upon registration, the claimant had agreed to Camelot’s T&Cs, which explicitly stated they could “declare a play invalid (and will not be obliged to pay any prize) if the outcome of a play displayed on the Game Play window is inconsistent with the result of that play as predetermined by the national lottery computer system.” This clause was critical in Camelot’s defence, highlighting their foresight in crafting T&Cs that protected the integrity of the game and the interests of both the business and its customers.

The High Court dismissed the appeal, reinforcing the binding nature of the T&Cs to which the claimant had agreed. 

The Court of Appeal recognized the potential for players to win multiple prizes as per the game’s instructions. However, it concluded that the claimant was not entitled to the £1 million because the T&Cs, accessible via hyperlinks on Camelot’s website, were integral to the contract and allowed Camelot to deny the payment based on their predefined system settings.

This decision serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of clear, comprehensive, and accessible T&Cs for businesses. It shows that:

  1. Protection Against Claims: T&Cs can protect businesses from costly and damaging claims by setting clear rules and procedures that are agreed upon by all parties.
  2. Clarity and Transparency: Ensuring that T&Cs are not only thorough but also easily accessible and understandable can help mitigate disputes by ensuring that customers are aware of the rules before engaging with a service.
  3. Legal Compliance and Enforcement: In the event of a dispute, well-drafted T&Cs that comply with legal standards can be a strong line of defence in court.

For all types of businesses, this case exemplifies the necessity of investing in solid legal frameworks that include meticulously drafted T&Cs, something which the company and commercial law team at Peter Lynn and Partners are experts at.

So whether you are looking to:

  • Draft a new set of T&Cs
  • Amend an existing set of T&Cs
  • Enforce your T&Cs
  • Defend yourself against a business who is threatening to take you to court due to a breach of their T&Cs

Contact the team at Peter Lynn and Partners:

01792 450010

[email protected] 


Peter Lynn and Partners

Preventing Legal Problems.