1 Write to the company

If you think a particular term in your contract is unfair, write to the company explaining why, stating the amount of money you think you should get back.

If the company is demanding money from you, state that you consider the term they are relying on to be unfair, and that it can't be enforced against you.

2 Escalate your complaint

If the trader won't accept what you say, the next step is court action or a dispute resolution scheme, such as an ombudsman or arbitration scheme - if there's one for your type of complaint.

If you want to claim back money you believe you’re owed, you’ll have to take the company to court or use a dispute resolution scheme.

Alternatively, if the company says you owe it money, it may try to sue you for the amount it thinks it’s due. 

Either way, your case will be that the term of the contract is unfair and shouldn't be enforced against you.

If the amount involved is below the small claims limit (£10,000 in England and Wales or £3,000 in Scotland and Northern Ireland), the case may be dealt with in the small claims court.

3 Beyond small claims

If the amount of money involved is higher than the small claims limit, you’ll need some expert legal advice. And you'll probably need to appoint a solicitor to prepare your case. 

You may be able to get free legal assistance through legal expenses insurance, which comes as part of your home or car insurance. Check your policies for details.

Before you start any court action, warn the trader in writing that this is what you’re going to do. If the trader sues you, there's a set time that you have for acknowledging the claim and getting your defence to court. 

The letter you receive from the court should state these deadlines.

You should also ensure you’ve consulted and complied with the Pre-action conduct protocol which outlines all the steps you need to take before going to court. This would also apply to the trader.

4 Report the trader to the CMA

If you decide you don’t want to pursue a claim in court, you can still take steps to help make sure other people don't fall foul of the same unfair contract term.

From April 2014, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has been replaced by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) with regulation for lending to consumers moving to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

The CMA will work to enforce consumer protection legislation and will tackle practices and market conditions that make it difficult for consumers to make choices including unfair terms in consumer contracts and any issues related to poor competition.

You can use this form to report anti-competitive or market issues to the CMA.

You should also report the matter to your local trading standards department.

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