Legal update: Properly incorporated T&Cs save National Lottery £1 million

Posted on May 21, 2023
Posted by Marion Kennedy

In a recent case, a person’s claim for a summary judgment that they were entitled to win £1 million from Camelot UK Lotteries Limited (‘Camelot’), the previous licensed operator of the National Lottery, has been dismissed. In 2015, the person had matched her chosen number with a winning number in an online instant win game, and received a flashing message and animation saying she had won £10. However, when she inspected the screen she saw that her winning number also matched a number which had a prize of £1 million. She didn’t receive a flashing message or animation about this prize, and when she clicked ‘Finish’ she was told she had won £10. 

Camelot refused to pay the £1 million, blaming a coding error with their animation software, which had incorrectly listed the number “1” in both “your numbers” and “winning numbers”. The claimant issued legal proceedings against Camelot, but has so far been unsuccessful due to Camelot having clear terms and conditions in place to protect against these types of errors. The case may yet continue to trial and/or appeal stages. 

As a refresher, and to protect your own business, we’ve set out below how to write your terms and conditions and where you can find templates on our site. 

Why did the judge reject the player’s claim?  

The judge rejected the player’s claim for summary judgment in her favour. He held that Camelot’s terms and conditions successfully excluded them from being liable to pay the claimant £1 million, as the terms were clear, accessible and not unfair. 

The claimant had to tick a box explaining that she understood the terms and conditions when she signed up for the online betting website, and Camelot required her to accept any updates by tick box whenever they updated their terms. The judge held that the terms and conditions were easily accessible by hyperlink and drop down menus, and they were logical, clearly drafted and easy to read. 

Relevant terms included that a person was only entitled to one win per game, the outcome of the game was ‘pre-determined’ when the ticket was bought, and that the game was only completed once the player clicked ‘Finish’. The terms also clearly stated that to win a prize the player must receive flashing white matching numbers, a message stating what the win amount is and that the player must then select ‘finish’ to complete the game, and that there might be a difference between what appeared on screen and the result as predetermined by the computer system. The judge did not decide what might have happened if the player had in fact received a message in error at the end of the game saying they had won £1 million; this may have affected the outcome if the result was too unfair or onerous.

This case is a good reminder to make sure your terms and conditions are fair, easily accessible, and clear. Your T&Cs help customers understand how you will provide goods and/or services, and also assist in protecting your business from future disputes and liabilities. 

How to write your own terms and conditions 

Knowing how to write terms and conditions of sale is essential to running a successful business, whether you’re selling online or face-to-face, or you’re selling to other businesses or consumers. You can use Sparqa Legal to generate terms and conditions of sale which set out the terms on which you provide goods and/or services to customers, and include terms to protect your business from liability and disputes with customers. To do so, simply:

  1. decide which template you need (use Terms and conditions – Sale of goods if you’re selling goods, Terms and conditions – Services if you are a service provider, or Terms and conditions – Sale of goods and services if you’re selling both goods and services); 
  2. click ‘Get started’ and complete the questionnaire with your business’s details;
  3. download your terms and conditions and read through them carefully to check they are suitable for your business; and
  4. provide your terms and conditions to potential customers before they agree to use your goods and services. See below for more guidance on how to display and provide your T&Cs. 

If you choose to write your own bespoke terms and conditions of sale, you should seek legal advice to check you’re covering all the necessary information. You can access a specialist lawyer in a few simple steps using our Ask a Lawyer service. Note that if your T&Cs provide more than the legal minimum to consumers (eg you provide a longer period to return goods than the minimum required under law), you must stick to what you have promised. 

Don’t forget that your terms and conditions of sale are different to the terms and conditions governing how individuals use your website (also called website terms of use). For a guide on writing website terms of use, check out this blog.

How to provide your terms and conditions to customers

You should provide a clear link to your T&Cs on your website, and make sure they can be easily downloaded and printed off by the customer. It’s good practice to put a link in the footer of every page of your site, and to also include a link and a tick-box near the end of your online sales process (before you have finalised the order or taken any money). 

To help improve your customers’ understanding of T&Cs, the Government recommends that you:

  • use an FAQ format when presenting key terms, eg ‘When will my item be delivered?’;
  • illustrate key terms with icons, eg using a pound sign next to the question ‘How much does shipping cost?’;
  • provide terms in a scrollable text box; 
  • provide information in short chunks, eg using a pop up box when requiring a customer’s email address explaining why you need it;
  • use illustrations and comics to explain certain processes, such as how to return goods;
  • advise customers approximately how long it will take to read your T&Cs; and
  • let customers know when it’s their last chance to read the T&Cs. 

The content in this article is up to date at the date of publishing. The information provided is intended only for information purposes, and is not for the purpose of providing legal advice. Sparqa Legal’s Terms of Use apply.