Seaborne Freight is the company awarded a £13.8m government contract to run ferries between Ramsgate and Ostend in the event of a no-deal Brexit, seen by many as another government gaffe given that they have limited or no apparent experience in operating a passenger ferry service. Last week it found itself in hot water when, embarrassingly, it uploaded terms and conditions that seemed designed for a takeaway food service to its website.

The terms and conditions obliged customers to “thoroughly check the supplied goods before agreeing to pay for any meal/order” and reserved the right to seek compensation “for any losses incurred as the result of hoax delivery requests”, amongst other things.

The apparent gaffe led to widespread media ridicule once the contents of the terms and conditions had been spotted, which was highly embarrassing for both the company and the government.

Commentators accused the company of having copied and pasted a takeaway food service’s terms and conditions. While we cannot say whether or not this is where the terms and conditions originated, if this were the case then the company may also have committed copyright infringement against the holder of copyright in the original terms and conditions. This could be a source of further embarrassment (and potential liability) if the copyright holder were to take issue with any copying.

This incident highlights the importance of ensuring that terms and conditions are well drafted and are appropriate to the business. Businesses will seek to rely on their standard terms and conditions frequently so it is important to ensure that they suit the business that is being carried out.

If you would like to discuss your terms and conditions, please contact a member of our Commercial team on 0161 941 4000 or by email to