News

Consent

April 2017

 

What did you consent to? Have you any idea? Did you read the terms and conditions or just sign? Maybe you just clicked the ‘agree’ button. Did you at least save or download the terms and conditions to read later? Maybe not.

Don’t worry you’re not alone. Most of us ‘just sign’. However, don’t forget you are signing a contract. A contract is binding and only in limited circumstances can you break it or have it declared invalid. The contract you haven’t read may say anything and commit you to things you don’t agree with.

In legal terms what is said in the contract is generally absolute. If you have agreed to sell your soul to the devil, regardless of whether you have signed in blood or not, this stands. There exist unfair contract provisions, but generally what you have agreed to stands.

If you have signed a financial contract, you may have agreed to sign over your home to a bank if you default on a loan. This could mean as little (or as much) as missing a single payment. You may have agreed for a bank to raise interest rates whenever it wishes. Perhaps more concerningly you may have agreed for a bank to change the terms and conditions whenever they wish. If you are lucky the bank may notify you in advance of any changes.

Generally, contracts with financial institutions are one sided - take it or leave it. That is because this is what most people do. However, every contract is open to negotiation. A bank may not wish to negotiate, but it is possible and necessary if they want your business.

There is a true story of a Russian man who amended the terms and conditions a bank sent him. These were found to be valid, though ultimately a settlement was reached. Don’t just consent, read the terms and conditions and if you wish (and can) negotiate. 

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