SMB secures a fully renovated camper van for client following settlement of an online competition dispute

9th March 2022

Our clients entered an online prize competition after reading the competition Promoter’s Facebook post. It advertised the sale of entry tickets and the chance to win a renovated camper van and our clients won. They proceeded to sign the Promoter’s poorly drafted ‘Winner’s Agreement’ and became the not-so-proud owners of a slightly decrepit Peugeot Boxer despite it being advertised as a brand-new conversion which was ready to take on an adventure.

Unfortunately for our clients, the only adventure they would end up taking was to their local mechanic. As it transpired, the conversions made were purely aesthetic as there was a series of mechanical and structural faults present under the van’s bonnet ranging from a leaky coolant to a damaged head gasket coupled with a defective engine and oil reservoir. Even the bolts to the van’s swivel seat were not fastened properly!

To no avail, our clients spent over £6,000 trying to fix problems that should not have been present in the first place. They were understandably devastated because, after a slew of nationwide lockdowns, all our clients wanted to do was to tour the UK’s countryside in style.

Undeterred in finding a resolution, they contacted the Promoter and asked them to fix the camper van. Regrettably, tensions rose, communication broke down and the only response our clients received was from the Promoter’s solicitors who argued that our clients had no case because the Winner’s Agreement precluded them from bringing any claim for misrepresentation.

Soon after, SMB’s Intellectual Property and Retail teams, led by Partner Maninder Gill and assisted by Trainee Joe Hennessy and Paralegal Hannah Gilliland were instructed to resolve the matter. The team crafted its letter before action, putting forward a robust and precise argument that overwhelmingly demonstrated the Promoter’s wrongdoing and highlighted the severe penalties that would follow if a settlement was not reached.

In overturning the Promotor’s solicitor’s position, the SMB team scrutinised the Winner’s Agreement and found that, not only did the Promoter try to unlawfully limit its contractual liability for the deliberate misrepresentation of the prize, but they also sought to rely on a clause within the Winner’s Agreement to supersede the competition rules. However, this clause was clearly not binding on our client because of its poor drafting.

Additionally, the SMB team relied on the judgment in McGowan v Radio Buxton (2001) where the court held that any promotional material, which advertises competition prizes to the public, will be regarded as an intention to create legal relations and will establish a legally binding agreement. In our case, this meant that the Promotor’s Facebook post became the only legally enforceable contract (by virtue of our clients having won the competition) and the Promoter was in clear breach of contract when they deliberately misrepresented the camper van.

Consequently, the Promoter threw in the towel and our clients recovered 100% of the monies they lost (including legal fees); a newly converted camper van worth over £35,000; and an assurance that its interior would be designed entirely by them.

As a result, our clients were full of praise exclaiming that we had “managed to simplify a complex situation” and that it was our “representation that really made the difference”. Even one of the Promoter’s directors expressed how impressed he was with our firm stating we “are outstanding at what we do”.

If you feel that you could use SMB’s services in relation to your own concerns or complaints regarding prize competitions, please contact either Maninder Gill or Joe Hennessy as we would be happy to assist.