DOOM: READING THOSE PRE-PRINTED CONTRACTS
- By Gordon R. MacKenzie
You're just off a plane, at car rental counter. You have more luggage
than you can carry and your kids are running wild. You don't have
time to read the fine (and usually faint) print on the car rental
agency's pre-printed contract. Should you sign? Unwisely, most people
would sign without reading.
In Tilden Rent-A-Car v. Clendenning, Mr. Clendenning purchased "full
non-deductible" insurance coverage when he rented his car after
landing at the Vancouver Airport. The fine print stated the coverage
would not apply if the driver consumed any alcoholic beverages.
Mr. Clendenning signed the contract without reading it. Later Mr.
Clendenning was in an accident after having a couple of drinks.
Tilden refused to pay for the cost of repairing the car on the basis
of the agreement.
The Ontario Court of Appeal ruled that Tilden should pay for the
repair costs. They said that if a pre-printed contract contains
terms beyond what a party to the contract would normally expect,
reasonable steps must be taken to draw the person's attention to
the unusual provision.
Mr. Clendenning was lucky; he could afford the legal costs of fighting
a large corporation like Tilden. There are also many exceptions
to this rule, so, don't assume its safe not to read an agreement.
If you read the contract ahead of time, you can avoid a heavy handed
corporate giant having its way with your rights.
This article is presented as general information only and is
not to be relied on as legal advice. You should contact your lawyer
to see how the law applies to your circumstances before any action