Online Consumer Contracts – Are online terms and conditions incorporated into a contract?

As we are living in an increasingly digital era, online shopping has become the norm meaning that businesses have to take care to ensure that their standard terms and conditions are brought to their customer’s attention sufficiently. Ensuring that terms and conditions are effectively incorporated into a contract of sale without impeding the ease and speed of online shopping for the consumer can be a difficult balancing act for businesses.

A recent Court of Appeal ruling, Joan Parker-Grennan v Camelot UK Lotteries Limited, involved the consideration of what an online trader needs to do to incorporate their terms and conditions into a contract to sell goods or services. The claimant in this case, Joan Parker-Grennan, had played an online gambling game on the defendant’s website which suffered a software glitch that showed a £1,000,000 prize icon before stating her actual prize of £10 at the end of the game. The claimant lost this case as the court found that the contract terms that she had accepted, being the on-screen rules of the game, were binding on her. The Court of Appeal upheld this decision, finding that Camelot’s terms were incorporated into the contract with the claimant. 

So, how do you ensure terms are incorporated into the contract of sale when a consumer is shopping online?

In the case above, it was found that Camelot’s website required consumers to click to accept their terms and conditions and there were clear links to access these terms. Consumers were notified of any updates made to these terms when logging into the website and were required to click acceptance for any significant updates. The Court of Appeal found that this was reasonably sufficient to bring the terms and conditions to the claimants attention.

This offers support to online retailers using the common ‘click-wrap’ licences that this will be considered enough to incorporate their terms and conditions into contracts of sale. 

It would therefore be good practice for your business to consider the following:

  • Ensure that customers are made aware that standard terms and conditions apply to the contract;
  • Present customers with easy access to the terms via clear hyperlink;
  • Require customers to click acceptance of the terms before making a purchase (and perhaps again if any significant updates are made to the terms down the line);
  • Ensure that terms are drafted clearly and in plain language and attention is drawn to any onerous clauses.

In conclusion, if your business is looking to rely on standard terms and conditions with online consumers, it is important to ensure that the above steps are followed to make sure that these terms become incorporated into a contract of sale.

The Commercial & IP Team at Berry Smith can provide specialist advice on reviewing and refining your standard terms and conditions, as well as general commercial and business advice.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the issue raised in this article or any other aspect of Commercial law at 029 2034 5511 or