The old adages “be careful what you sign!” and “don’t sign your life away!” could not be more pertinent in this digital and diverse business market age. The use of small print by companies when engaging with consumers in contractual agreements is commonplace and consumers can be left bound by contracts they unwittingly signed.
However, there is hope for the consumer who has suffered injuries after signing a contract with another party who then seeks to limit the consumer’s right to pursue an injury claim because of reliance on an exclusion clause.
The law in this matter is governed by the Consumer Rights Act 2015. This recent act was an amalgamation of three much older acts – the Sale of Goods Act 1979, the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 and the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977 (UCTA).
UCTA (and now the Consumer Rights Act) was brought in to protect consumers against unfair contract terms imposed on them by traders. Under this act some terms are automatically unenforceable against the consumer. This includes any attempt to exclude or limit liability for death or personal injury arising out of the trader’s negligence.
In a recent case Lyons Davidson dealt with, the defendant traders had demanded that our client pay £2,000 to them before they would even investigate their liability to her for the injury she had suffered because of their negligence. She believed she would have to make the payment before she could pursue any claim, because this provision was in the contract that she had signed.
We advised our client that the contract term was unenforceable against her because of the protection the Consumer Rights Act provides because the term purported to impose a limit on her right to pursue her injury claim. She was therefore able to proceed with her claim according to the usual protocols and procedures, and without making any payment to the trader.