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CCT decision – changes in terms and conditions

A couple engaged a photographer to film and photograph their wedding day. After agreeing on the price to be paid for the service, the couple signed the contract of sale and paid a €400 deposit. On concluding the sales agreement, the couple made it clear to the photographer that they did not want their photos or videos to be used for marketing purposes on social media.

Three months after signing the agreement, the couple received an e-mail from the photographer to inform them about a new condition he decided to add to the contract of sale and which gives him the right to use any material photographed or filmed for marketing purposes.

The photographer asked the couple to sign and agree to the new condition. They refused and insisted that the trader should adhere to the original terms and conditions. The photographer insisted with his clients that they should agree to the new condition and then, they could send him an e-mail requesting that their wedding video and photos are not featured on social media.

In a legally binding agreement between two parties, neither party has the right to change the conditions of the sale

However, the couple refused the photographer’s request and decided to cancel the contract of sale. They also asked for a full refund of the deposit paid. The photographer refused to refund the deposit and therefore the couple lodged a complaint with the Office for Consumer Affairs within the Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority.

Conciliation was carried out but, unfortunately, no amicable understanding was reached. Therefore, the couple opted to take their case to the Consumer Claims Tribunal.

The arbiter reasoned that, with the signing of the contract of sale and the payment of the deposit, the two parties were bound to honour the sales agreement. On one hand, the photographer was obliged to provide the photography and videography service, while on the other the consumers were obliged to pay the full amount due once the service was completed.

The arbiter also noted that before the service was provided the photographer decided to unilaterally add a condition to the contract of sale through which he reserves the right to use the couple’s photographs and video for marketing purposes. The couple refused this new condition, arguing that since this condition was not included in the original sales agreement, then it should not apply to their contract of sale.

The arbiter considered that since there was a legally binding agreement between the two parties, neither party had the right to change the conditions of the sale without the other party’s consent. The arbiter argued that while the photographer had the right to update and change the terms and conditions of new sales contracts, he had no legal right to change the conditions of concluded agreements.

For these reasons the arbiter upheld the couple’s claim and ruled that the photographer should refund the €400 deposit. The arbiter also ruled that the expenses of the tribunal should be paid by the trader.

Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority
Office for Consumer Affairs
Mizzi House,
National Road,
Blata l-Bajda
HMR 9010

Freephone: 8007 4400
Tel: 2395 2000
Enquiries: info@mccaa.org.mt
Consumer complaints: fair.trading@mccaa.org.mt
Website: www.mccaa.org.mt

MCCAA office hours for the public:
Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 12.30pm

European Consumer Centre Malta
(For complaints against traders in other EU states)

47A, South Street,
Valletta.
VLT 1101

Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 3pm.

Tel: 2122 1901
E-mail: ecc.malta@gov.mt

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