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Betfred case shows the importance of correctly drafted contracts terms

Andrew Green’s successful legal action to force Betfred to pay him £1.7m won on an online game has reinforced the need for consumer facing businesses to ensure they have the protection of a correctly drafted contract terms. The ramifications of this can apply to other businesses too.

Mr Green won £1,722,500.24 worth of betting chips on a side bet in “Frankie Dettori’s Magic Seven Blackjack”, an online blackjack game provided on Betfred’s website.

The case Green v Petfre (Gibraltar) Ltd (t/a Betfred) was heard in the High Court and provided an important reminder that businesses should be asking themselves whether their contracted exclusions of liability are sufficiently specific, prominent and fair. Businesses must ensure that the drafting of any exclusion clauses is clear and fair in order to comply with the Consumer Act 2015.

In Mr Green’s case, the company claimed that a defect made the game (which was provided by, and was the intellectual property of, Playtech) more likely to pay out higher sums in winnings than intended, and that this was covered in the game’s terms and conditions.

After he had initially challenged the decision, Green, who took three years to win his case, stated that he was offered £30,000 as a goodwill gesture on the condition that he did not speak about the incident. This offer was later increased to £60,000 – both of which he rejected. 

Ruling in Mr Green's favour Mrs Justice Foster said one of the terms and conditions set out in the game by Betfred, which was relied on by the firm in its defence, was "just not apt to cover the circumstances of this case at all". She added: "These clauses in the terms and conditions are inadequate to exempt Betfred from the obligation to pay out on an ostensibly winning bet or series of bets."

She also found none of the terms seeking to exclude liability were "sufficiently brought to the attention of Mr Green so as to be incorporated in the gaming contracts he entered with Betfred".

The Judge criticised the combination of inadequate signposting to the significant exclusions of liability, and the failure to highlight the meaning and effect intended. The Judge was unmoved by Betfred’s argument that its use of capital letters amounted to a ‘signpost of importance’, saying that this did little to remedy the obscurity about the purported scope of the exclusion of responsibility for the hidden defect”.

Mr Green’s case confirmed that clarity and transparency of contractual terms are crucial when contracting with consumers.

It is therefore important for businesses to regularly professionally review their contracting terms and conditions. For many businesses, specialist insurance can provide added protection against claims for professional errors or omissions or other forms of civil liability policies.

W Denis procure competitive and comprehensive insurance for a wide range of risks, businesses and professions. We can give advice on where coverage can cover aspects of business activity, as well as procure enhanced contracted liability insurances for certain types of risks.

W Denis Insurance Brokers has dedicated teams of specialists across all areas of liability insurance. To discuss this further with an expert at W Denis, please make arrangements with daniel.moss@wdenis.co.uk and on 0044 (0)113 2439812

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