Are you bound by a contract which you signed but didn’t read properly? Which case won?
Pharmaceutical company buys shipment of flu vaccines
An Australian pharmaceutical company purchased a shipment of influenza vaccines from the United Kingdom in preparation for the 1999 flu season.
The vaccine was required to be stored at a certain temperature and meet other delivery requirements.
The collection, storage and transportation of the vaccine was to be handled by a separate company. This process was arranged by a retailer of medical supplies.
Agent signs contract without reading conditions
As an agent for the pharmaceutical company, the retailer entered into a contract with the company employed to store and deliver the vaccine.
When it came to settling the contract, the agent signed it without inspecting a declaration appearing just above the place where a signature was required: “Please read ‘Conditions of Contract’ (Overleaf) prior to signing.”
The agent neglected to read the relevant conditions and exemption clauses of the contract, nor were they communicated in any dialogue between the parties. Importantly, one of these clauses provided that the carrier would not be responsible for any damage to the vaccine shipments.
Pharmaceutical company sues transport company for negligence
During delivery the vaccine was destroyed, as it was stored at the incorrect temperature.
The pharmaceutical company subsequently sued the transport company for damages for negligence.
However, the transport company claimed it was not liable for the destruction of the vaccines due to one of the exemption clauses in the contract.
It was up to the court to decide if the transport company was indeed liable for the destruction of the vaccines.