Cochrane signed up to be a user of Spreadex’s online betting service. In the sign-up process, he ticked a box agreeing to their terms and conditions. He made a series of bets. Then, having left his computer at his girlfriend’s house, her son then started to place bets using his account and left his account significantly in debit. On discovering this, he told Spreadex what had happened. Spreadex demanded immediate payment and then issued legal proceedings. It asked the High Court for summary judgment on the basis that Cochrane had no case to answer.
The High Court disagreed. It said that it was a consumer contract and the provision in Spreadex’s standard terms and conditions making a user liable for any trading done under its account without limit was unfair and therefore unenforceable contrary to the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations. Since the terms and conditions made clear that there was no contractual commitment either way until Spreadex accepted a bet, it was not fair to make a user liable for something that was done in his name before he had agreed to the ad hoc contract.