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Unfair Marina Terms & Conditions

Unfair Marina Terms - Prime Minister's Office Petition


Now boaters, and anyone interested in fair trade, can make their views known to the Prime Minister through an online petition on the official site of the Prime Minister's Office at http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/Marin-Terms/


The petition reads

"We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to refer the question of marina terms and conditions that restrict the sale of boats to the Director General of Fair Trading."

Many marinas seek to restrict the choice of those wishing to sell their boats by terms and conditions that say that restrictive clauses relating to boat sales in the marina such as boats in the marina can only be sold through the marina brokerage and that they cannot be sold privately, or through another brokerage, while in the marina. These unfair and anti-competitive clauses may be legally unenforceable under the The Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 and The Enterprise Act 2002, indeed when the boat industries trade association, was asked "if the standard contract used by their members contained these terms restricting boat brokerage to the marina brokerage company or banning private sales of boats" The British Marine Federation's (BMF) Company Secretary and Director of Legal Services, Tamzin Matthew, stated that "we don't have such a clause in our standard contracts, but we know that use of them is widespread. We tell our members that if they use them they have to accept that they are probably unenforceable as they are likely to be found to be unfair terms in consumer contracts".

So why are these unfair contracts still in use? The answer is that the less reputable marinas feel they can get away with it. The only redress that the ordinary boater has is to take the marina to court, a course that most people only take as the last resort and, even if they win the case, it does not stop the marina continuing to use the same unfair conditions because County Court judgements do not constitute case law so each case must be taken to court separately even though the circumstances are very similar.

The Office of Fair Trading would seem to be the body to outlaw this as they have general functions under the Enterprise Act 2002 (EA02) and have powers to seek undertakings and court orders to deal with infringements of certain consumer protection law but only where the infringement harms the collective interests of consumers. Unfortunately the OFT say "Given that the OFT has a wide range of responsibilities and finite resources we must concentrate on those areas where we judge that our intervention can do the most good. For that reason, not every complaint we consider will lead to action even though the issue is one on which we may have the power to act." In other words they are too busy dealing with cases, such as large supermarkets and dairy processors, airline passenger fuel surcharges and bid rigging in the construction industry, to deal with the problems of a few thousand boaters.


Now boaters, and anyone interested in fair trade, can make their views known to the Prime Minister through an online petition on the official site of the Prime Minister's Office at http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/Marina-Terms/





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