Unfair contract terms

Companies may not use terms and conditions that are unfair for the consumer in their contracts. Read more about how you can determine if contract terms are unfair and how they can be adjusted.

How do I know if contract terms are unfair?

Companies may not use terms and conditions that are unfair for the consumer in their contracts. A contract term may be unfair if it favours the company to the extent that the rights and obligations of the parties are not in balance. For example, the terms may not mean that the consumer has an unreasonably higher level of risk for any defects or faults in the product than the company.

In the most extreme cases of unfair contract terms, the only “obligation” the company has is receiving the purchase price, while the customer is left to bear all the risks. Among other things, an unfair contract term may concern the price, contract duration, delivery time, payment, billing, consequences of defects or termination of the contract.

  • A contract term is unfair if, for example

    • it prevents the consumer from using their legal rights, including requesting a refund for a defective product or service
    • it limits or prevents the consumer’s access to their legal remedies. The consumer always has the right to have their case heard by the district court in the municipality they live in or to refer the matter to the Consumer Disputes Board
    • it gives the company the right to one-sidedly change the contract terms without a valid reason specified in the contract
    • it gives the company the right to one-sidedly change the features of the product or service without a valid reason
    • it gives the company the right to increase the price of the product or service without giving the consumer the right to cancel the contract if the final price is too high compared to the price agreed when the contract was made
    • an unreasonable level of compensation is demanded from a consumer who does not meet their obligations under the contract
      the company reserves the right to terminate an ongoing contract without giving the consumer sufficient notice in advance
    • it is binding on the consumer even if the consumer has not had a real possibility to read the terms and conditions before the contract is made.

Adjusting unfair contract terms

Just because a certain contract term is unfair (for example a clause concerning the duration of the contract), this does not mean that the whole contract is invalid. If a specific contract term is unfair for the consumer, the contract may be adjusted, or changed in such a way that it is not unfair as a whole.
If a contract term is unreasonable, you should negotiate with the contracting partner on adjusting it and making it more reasonable. For example, an unfair clause may be removed, in which case the rest of the contract will remain unchanged and valid.

Among other things, the adjustment may concern contractual penalties, cancellation of the contract or price. However, the contract and the purchase may be cancelled if the terms and conditions as a whole are so unfair that you cannot be expected to fulfil the contract.

What you should do if you find contract terms unfair  

  • If you think that a contract term is unfair, you should first negotiate with the company on adjusting it and making it more reasonable. Explain why you find the contract term unfair.

    You can also contact the Consumer Advisory Services for assistance with the negotiation.

    Consumer advice online contact form

    (Normally 24 h)

    Advisor will respond by telephone within a week. You will most likely receive a reply by a phone call.

    Consumer Advice Telephone Service

    Service time Monday–Wednesday and Friday 9 am – noon, Thursday noon – 3 pm.

    Note! The telephone service is closed on Thursday, March 28. The online form closes on Thursday 28 March at 3pm. Services will be open on Tuesday, April 2nd.

  • If negotiating with the company does not help, unfair contract terms are ultimately adjusted by the Consumer Disputes Board.

For companies