HL Deb 10 March 1964 vol 256 cc322-3

2.43 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, in the light of the judgments delivered in McCutcheon v. David MacBrayne Ltd., they propose to introduce general legislation to secure that when contracts are made in circumstances in which there is no scope for free negotiation of the terms, they are made upon terms that are clear, fair and reasonable and settled independently as such.]


My Lords, the noble Lord has made an extremely wide proposal, which Her Majesty's Government would not consider suitable for general legislation. I might add that the present law of contract requires that the terms are sufficiently brought to the notice of both parties.


My Lords, I am much obliged to the noble Lord for his reply, but is it not rather unfair that a large organisation, enjoying monopolistic conditions, can present its customers with a printed document headed "Conditions", containing 3,000 to 4,000 words of small print, divided into 27 paragraphs, of which Paragraph 19, in the opinion of one of the noble and learned Law Lords, is enough to absolve the respondents several times over of all negligence?


My Lords, if, as I gather, the noble Lord wishes to refer to a particular industry, from which this case arose, I cannot say more than what my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor said on January 23—namely, that this is a matter which is under consideration at the present time.