Competitions are a great promotional tool for some types of website. They increase user engagement, and, with modern web technologies, can be organised and managed with relative ease. However, publishers do need to consider the legal implications of running online competitions.
In many cases, the most critical legal issue is the avoidance of gambling legislation. If a competition is regulated under the Gambling Act 2005, for example as a lottery, then there will be a significant regulator burden. This template is not suitable for use in relation to competitions that are so regulated. If you are unsure whether a competition you are running or considering running is regulated, you should take expert legal advice.
Competitions open to the general public or a section of the general public should also comply with consumer protection legislation. Relevant legislation includes the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 and the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999.
In English law, however, there are no detailed statutory rules that apply specifically to prize competitions. Instead, such competitions are covered by the Advertising Standards Authority's CAP Codes which are non-statutory but not entirely toothless.
This document incorporates a special section designed to aid compliance with the CAP Code. Compliance is in significant part a matter of disclosing certain information to competition entrants, as well as following proper procedures.
The basic information disclosure provisions in the competition-related terms and conditions in this document cover: (i) the eligibility of competition entrants, including age-based, geographical and other restrictions; (ii) the process of entering competitions, including free entry routes; (iii) limitations on entries, including per individual and aggregate limitations; (iv) the identity, independence and procedures of the judges; and (v) prizes, including timings for the notification of winners and award of prizes.
In addition, there are various optional provisions, which may or may not apply depending upon the type of competition being run. These include provisions relating to announcements, publicity, the licensing of rights in competition entries and promotional packs.
In many cases, information that should be disclosed to entrants and potential entrants will not apply to all competitions run through the website. In these cases, the information should be published upon the website, and references to where the information can be found should be included in these terms and conditions.
As well as the competition-related rules, this template includes a full set of provisions covering the use of a free-to-use website. For a full list, see below.