The High Court has dismissed a claim for summary judgment in Parker-Grennan v Camelot UK Lotteries Ltd.
A player brought a claim for £1 million against Camelot. As well as the National Lottery, Camelot operates an online "instant win" game.
The claimant bought a £5 ticket for a particular instant win game. Prizes ranged from £5 to £1M. She had to match a number in one section of the screen with with a number in another section. The claimant was told she had won £10. This was because the number “15” was matched and it was flashing white, and the prize for that combination was £10. However, the claimant could also see that she had also matched the number “1”, the prize for which was £1 million. There was no corresponding message to the effect that she had won that amount, and no flashing lights. However, she took a screenshot and said she was entitled to that prize. Camelot refused to pay out, saying that the claimant had not won the £1 million and that a coding issue had generated an error in the Java software responsible for the animations. The £10 prize was the one the computer had “predetermined” would be won in conjunction with the ticket the claimant purchased. The claimant sought summary judgment.
The judge reviewed the evidence under the following three headings and dismissed the claim:
- Incorporation of website terms. Having reviewed the case law and evidence, the court said that Camelot's terms of business were properly incorporated into its contract with the claimant using hyperlinks and drop-down terms. Camelot sought to rely on terms which were not not unusual or onerous. They were clearly drafted and did not need to be brought to the attention of the claimant in any particular way.
- Fairness of the website terms. The case was considered under the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 (the predecessor legislation to the Consumer Rights Act 2015) and the court ruled that none of the relevant terms were unfair under the UTCCR and so were enforceable.
- Construction of the website terms. The court considered the website terms and the games procedures and decided that a win was shown by flashing white matching numbers and a message stating what the win amount is, and that the player must then select "finish" to complete the game. The terms also made it clear that a player could only win once per play. The screenshot taken by the claimant did not represent the end point of the game.
The decision doesn't introduce any new law, but it does illustrate the importance of careful drafting and ensuring that terms with consumers are transparent and that exclusion clauses clearly signposted. Our regular readers may remember the case of Green v Betfair, where the court ruled in Mr Green's favour, saying that Betfair's terms were not adequate to exempt Betfred from the obligation to pay out on an ostensibly winning bet or series of bets.