Avoiding Liability for Breach of Contract

Large powerful firms have legal teams at their disposal for the writing of contracts. These contracts may be cleverly and creatively worded so that in cases of a breach, their liability is limited or even excluded. Legislation in the form of the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977 and the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 have been introduced to protect consumers from the imposition of such clauses where they are considered to be unfairly biased in this way. This is dealt with here.

But not all limitation or exclusion clauses are unfair. Consider use of the phrase: “Management cannot accept liability for any possessions lost, stolen or damaged on the premises”. But what if this were to be used in relation to a cloakroom or left luggage room? In those situations one party may try to rely on such a clause in order to avoid negligence and having to pay damages. But the other party may claim that the clause in legally invalid and cannot be used to escape liability. So what does the law say about exclusion clauses and whether they can be successfully relied on?

Well, there are two considerations, firstly whether the exclusion clause has actually been incorporated into the contract through the agreement of both parties, by reasonable notice or by strong implication. Secondly, a court will consider whether the clause does in fact cover the issue which is in dispute. It may be that the wording is vague, ambiguous or incomprehensible, in which case it cannot be said to apply to the issue, and therefore the party in breach cannot escape liability.

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12 comments… add one
  • Theron Navarro 8 April, 5:17 am

  • zak 29 August, 4:40 am

    I ordered a product 6 weeks ago and left a deposit. Its made to order so they said 10 weeks to delivery and then we pay the rest. They have now contacted me and said they got the price wrong….6 weeks later and that – have to pay £300 more or cancel the order!! Just wanted ppls advice about this? Do i have to pay extra if I want this product??

  • sue 20 February, 11:31 am

    My uncle agreed to have new windows via Dunraven Windows at the end of January – He was going to pay cash for them with no credit agreement. He’s not been well and loks after his two sibblings with mental disorders and feels that he cannot afford to have his windows replaced. So Feb 16 cancelled the agreement (after the 7 days cooling off) he has now received a letter from Dunraven saying that he will be charged for said windows as it is a breech of contract and that they have already manufactured the windows and that he will have to have a credit agreement if he can’t afford to pay. He is in a no win situation. Can anyone help??

  • S.Hearn 26 October, 3:57 pm

    I am in in dispute concerning the facilities provided at a holiday farmhouse in France. There were only 4 usable bedrooms, not the 5 advertised and no adherence to French swimming pool law. Having been unable to gain any satisfaction from either the owner or the substantial InternetVendingCompany advertising same I have turned to my bank, through whom the payment was made to the IVC.via their credit card.There was no option offered to pay the owner direct.I have claimed Breach of Contract but the bank simply inform me that they are unable to assist me,considering that S.75 of Consumer creditAct is not applicable.They state that no debtor/creditor supplier agreement existed between themselves and the supplier – the house ownerThat notwithstanding the advertising and payment to the IVC.via by bankcard that company offers no Warranyt or Endorsement of any individual property and is not responsible for the final presentation of same acting only as booking agent”. Is this deccision lawful and can/how is it challenged.

  • karen 21 October, 5:15 pm

    we have bought the lease on a licensed premises which turned out to have no license plus no trade as it ha been closed for 9 months which we wasn’t told, do we have time to terminate the contrac?

  • angela pattison 25 January, 10:42 pm

    I’ve purchased a horse for my daughter. It was agreed that I pay a £200 deposit and £50 each week. I have sofar paid a total of £1950 (NO missed payments) which mean I still owe£1550 (I also pay all expenses and stabling for the horse). They have now said I can’t have the horse and they will change the agreement/contract to a short term lease. My young duaghter is devestated. What are my rights and are they entitled to do this. I have said I’m not going to sign a change as I’ve want the horse and own more than half. I am not going to sign any changed contract. Please help. Need advise by this Tuesday. I

  • Dana 15 April, 2:53 am

    It was time for my daughter to move up from her first horse. Competitive jumper, she was ready for a larger more experienced horse. Trainer said she would take horse 1 to Wellington for the winter and sell him within two months. Found us horses to look at and settled on one for 60,000., which is comparable to what she thought we could sell horses 1 for. She had said she need to be involved with the choice because she would be the trainer. We were urged to move quickly, as the horse would be leaving for So. America soon. she knew the seller. We were told no bartering, price fixed at 60,000. We were also told a buy rather than lease to own was a better option. We signed papers. She left with our horse 1 for the winter to Wellington, Fla.
    We soon found out as we were realizing horse number two was not working out, that she only showed horse 1, 2x times,and then called in favors to feed and water him causing severe neglect, while she hired on with a Grand Prix group. We rescued him when we found out. Haven’t seen the trainer since, and now we have had two horses for over a year, with all costs adding to around 5,000. Monthly. We can’t afford to keep horse number2, and have been trying to sell both. We still owe 30,000. For horse 2 we need to default. Any thoughts, folks???

  • Dawn Gallaghan 23 August, 10:27 am

    I wondered if I could seek some advise as I broke my contract with chess telecom due to suffering horrendous Internet and phone line problems where at one stage we were left for a full week with no land lines and no internet. We had a corporate catering business which relied upon email bookings plus a retail sandwich shop where customers daily made their breakfast and lunch orders. We were left with no remote support, no engineer called on site which they said would happen, we made countless calls to them from mobiles and suffered losses of orders the same week. I was so furious with them I wrote a letter to customer services telling them I was cancelling the contract on the same day. They never reloaded to my letter. Further down the line once gone back to b.t. They are now requesting 12,000 payment to a small business even though my reasons for breach of contract were listed and explained in my letter. I am aware I have broken the contract but they sincerely put me through he’ll for weeks on end where one day land lines worked the next day they didn’t. Any advise would be greatly appreciated.
    Dawn Gallaghan

  • Matthew Williams 2 October, 4:10 pm

    I signed a contract online with a catalogue and was given an £150 credit limit. I made orders which I did not receive and they’ve finally accepted they weren’t delivered. They claim they received no emails from me before September when looking through my email account I was in constant contact from July 23rd. An email was sent by a senior figure apologising for the mess up and firstly recredited my account and then cancelled it because admittedly I’ve been slow to make payments to an affiliate catalogue due to serious illness. I am finally back working and intend on paying them off. The email was was defiantly sent from them, but the that part has been deleted (not from my end I assure you). Being as they’ve been untruthful about the timings of emails I sent I think they’ve done away with it somehow. I spoke to a Heather and their number is 03450719742. The catalogue in question is Fashion World

  • Eric 28 March, 10:04 am

    We had a verbal contract with British Gas to pay for our usage and extra to towards arrears. They moved the goal posts ie demanded nearly double the amount. Is this breach of contract?

  • balvinder sandhu 19 May, 10:13 am

    Hi i hired the scaffold from G&R company 280 old church road,coventry,cv6 7lz his mob no is 07815155489&02476702541. i called the boss on the site address is land of 216 treherne road, radford, coventry cv6 3dw. i showd him drawing aswel
    we agreed £600 cash for complete job . he done scaffolding and after he done two lifts aswel , now we need another lift which is finle lift then we can complete roof but now he massing around with us asking more money which £350 +£600 paid him in advance. also he saying if you not paid more money we will take the scaffold down, one week gone he doing nothing. my correspondence address is 41 derwent road ,whoitmore park,coventry,cv6 2hb
    b sandhu

  • Ernest Mick Glasby. 26 February, 9:07 pm

    I bought a phone in february on a 18 month contract and the agreed monthly charge was £14.79 Inc vat. The shop assistant told me that the first payment wouldnt be taken off my phone credit forating at least 21 days. But surprise surprise they did and not only that they over charged me by £3.50. Also they said that there wud be an extra charge for a couple of premium calls I made in those first two days of £9+ those calls were to a ee helpline complaining about the over charges and the poor service. I then went back to the shop to let them know that I wasn’t happy and wanted to cancel the contract.
    The manager of the shop said that I cud not do that as once I had signed the contact it was legally binding for the whole of the length of contract I had signed unless a paid a exorbitant sum to finish it. I rang a free call ee number and they promised that the overcharge would be refunded in March and the premium charges also waived as a goodwill gesture. But I just don’t now trust this company to keep there promises on my next bill. Is it too late to still cancel this contract without incuring a high cancellation charge?