Unfair contracts: consumers

Financial firms must provide clear and fair contracts, and cannot enforce unfair terms. Find out how to spot an unfair contract term, how to report it to us and how to get more information about your rights. 

How to spot an unfair contract term

A contract term can be unfair for many reasons, such as where it:

  • allows the firm to change the terms of the contract, without telling you as soon as possible or explaining why it has
  • binds you to hidden terms
  • excludes or limits your legal rights unfairly
  • charges a disproportionately large sum if you don’t fulfil your obligations under the contract

However, a term is not necessarily unfair because it looks like one of these; it depends on the details of the contract as a whole.

Report an unfair contract term

We have powers to challenge unfair terms in consumer contracts and can look at contract terms relating to most financial products and services. This includes bank, building society and credit union accounts, savings and investment products, insurance, mortgages, consumer credit products (including payday loans, credit cards and unsecured loans) and pension products.

If you think a contract term is unfair, use our unfair contract checklist to find out if we can deal with it. You can then use our online form to report an unfair contract term to us. We will decide whether to take action by looking at a number of factors, such as the number of consumers that may be affected and the amount of loss they could suffer.

When we find a contract term that we think is unfair (and which may cause significant disadvantage to a number of customers), we can ask the firm to stop using and/or change the term. If the firm does not agree to this, we may seek a court order to stop it using the term.

We usually cannot discuss our investigations or findings with you, but we appreciate your help in identifying potentially unfair contract terms in consumers’ contracts.

If you have concerns other than the fairness of a term in a contract, please contact us.

How to complain

Please be aware that we cannot resolve individual disputes you have with a firm or arrange compensation. If you are unhappy with a financial product or service, find out how to complain. You can get more information about your rights from the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline.