Smith Sutcliffe Solicitors

Online shopping - check the contract

Christmas is coming, and with it there will be a vast tide of present buying on-line. When buying on the internet or by email it is often the case that there is some form of requirement that a written agreement will need to be signed and returned. How necessary is that requirement? Not very if a recent court case is any guide. The case concerned a commodities trader and a fuel storage company. Basically emails were repeatedly exchanged saying things such as ‘A formal contract will follow in due course’ or “a further confirmation contract will be drawn up and forwarded for signature”. Simon Dakers, our Litigation Team Leader has looked at the case - "What actually happened was that no final signed contract was returned and one party, the commodities trader, tried to use that fact to state that no contract actually existed, and that acceptance of the quotation did not constitute a formal contract.”

.”The dispute finally ended up in the Court of Appeal which decided that the language of the relevant emails was quite explicit in being a ‘contract confirmation’ and the acceptance of a contractual offer. The Court also said that there was nothing in the signed quotation stating that it was ‘subject to contract’.Simon comments: “Next time you are engaging in online or email buying or selling, bear in mind this ruling, as either side can be bound even without a written contract.

If you need further advise about the contractual issues surrounding buying - or selling - goods and services over the internet, contact our Litigation Team or our Commercial  Team on 01282 426251


17th November 2011, 9:57
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