The High Court has held that a spread betting firm was unable to recover money it claimed a consumer owed it in respect of online spread betting losses. Mr Cochrane had accessed Spreadex’s online spread betting service, and had been provided with a password after answering a few questions. He had to click on a link to view customer terms and click “agree” to agree to them. He did so. One day, Mr Cochrane accessed his account from his girlfriend’s house and showed her five-year old child the “game” his was playing. After he had finished his trading for the day, he left open two trades, showing at a loss of around £9,000. Two days later, during which time he had had no access to a computer or his phone, he received a message from Spreadex telling him his account was running at a loss of almost £50,000. When he returned to his girlfriend’s house, he found many trades had been made in his absence. His girlfriend said her son had been playing games on the computer. Mr Cochrane explained to Spreadex what had happened, but Spreadex claimed full payment. The judge held for Mr Cochrane, holding both that the“customer agreement” on which Spreadex sought to rely may not have been a binding contract (and that only each individual trade was a contract). Alternatively, it said, if the customer agreement was a contract, many of its terms were so wide as to be likely to breach the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations. It said that, since Spreadex could not prove that the trades in question were carried out by Mr Cochrane or on his actual or ostensible authority, it could not recover on any of them. (Source:Spreadex Limited v. Colin Cochrane)
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Court says no recovery of “unauthorised” trading losses
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