In a recent case in the Court of Appeal, the Court ruled that information on a web page under the heading ‘about us’, that contained advice to users to obtain further information, was sufficient to absolve a trade organisation from its ‘guarantee’ responsibilities.

Customers who use members of the Swimming Pool and Allied Trades Association (SPATA) can claim redress in the event that a member becomes insolvent. However, the redress applies only where the membership is a full membership, not an associate membership.

A couple sought redress in these circumstances, having lost more than £40,000 due to the insolvency of their swimming pool contractor. They then discovered that the insolvent swimming pool contractor was a SPATA affiliate member, not a full member, and SPATA refused compensation. The couple sued SPATA.

SPATA defended the claim on the basis that prospective purchasers were advised on the ‘about us’ page of their website to obtain an information pack before entering into a contract for a pool and the information pack contained the necessary information about SPATA’s insolvency guarantee.

The Court ruled that SPATA was not liable to the couple. The advice to obtain the information leaflet before entering into a contract was considered to be a sufficient disclaimer.

SPATA now appears to approach the issue in a different way. The limitation of the guarantee is alluded to in the small print at the bottom of the SPATA ‘about us’ page and reads ‘Spatashield. This bond and warranty scheme protects customers holding a valid scheme certificate against the unforeseen business failure of a member. It can only be offered by full SPATA contractor members’.

The list of members in the ‘Find a SPATA member’ page clearly identifies those firms that are associate members, not full members.