Avoid unfair terms in sales contracts

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Unfair consumer contracts

You can’t enforce unfair terms in a consumer contract, or unfair consumer notices (eg signs on a shop wall or in a car park).

You can never enforce terms or notices that try to avoid your responsibility for:

You might not be able to enforce terms or notices if they try to avoid your responsibility in other ways, eg:

  • delays
  • unsatisfactory services
  • not doing what was agreed

Your contract terms might also be unfair if they weigh the contract significantly in your favour, eg:

  • by providing for excessive cancellation charges and automatic loss of all upfront payments
  • by creating unbalanced rights, eg being able to cancel a contract at any time, but requiring the customer to give 3 months’ notice
  • by allowing you to increase the agreed price at a later date

Your contract won’t be unfair just because it sets a price that’s higher than another business charges.

Contracts must be written in plain language to avoid being misleading and unfair.

If a customer complains

It’s up to the courts to decide if a term in your contract or wording in your notices is unfair.

You can be taken to court by the Competition and Markets Authority or a local trading standards office to stop you using unfair terms or notices.

Consumers can also take legal action themselves to challenge unfair terms or notices.

Read the guidance on unfair terms.