MyFondia VirtualLawyer
December 4, 2017

Day 4: Santa 1 - Con-men 0!

As many famous people, also Santa becomes the victim of con-men from time to time. A common scourge is unjust invoicing based on banner ads. This is how it typically goes: A con-man sets up a website that includes banner ads for different companies. The con-man X, who introduces himself as a marketing company, calls Santa’s workshop at the busiest hour and tells that Santa’s workshop and the marketing company have had previous cooperation and now the attachment in the message should be checked asap to see “if the information is still correct”.

Santa checks the attachment a bit carelessly and answers as X has requested: “I have checked the document you sent and accept it with this message”. Next week Santa receives a 3000-euro invoice from the banner ad service X.

When Santa tries to work out what this is all about, X announces that by answering to his message Santa has accepted a contract on the banner service.

Santa is vexed; he had thought that X’s message was only about checking the contacts, and he didn’t understand that his answer would be an order to X.

Santa contemplates whether he should just suck it up and pay the bill like demanded. The invoiced sum is quite small (compared to Santa’s budget) and he wouldn’t want to dispute the matter (and take the risk of legal expenses), especially when he had been a bit careless when answering X’s message. On the other hand, Santa feels completely cheated and as a man of principle he doesn’t want to pay a con-man.

And so, Santa consults his advisor. Santa is pleased when he hears that similar cases have lately been in district courts around the country, and based on them Santa has a decent chance of winning the dispute against X in court by denying the existence and validity of the contract. Santa was especially pleased with the judgment of the District Court of Helsinki (6.6.2017, no. 29193) where it was stated that “However, the confirmation sent by A cannot as such, in the case in question and taking the circumstances into account, be seen as an independent acceptance to an offer such as the offer-acceptance mechanism in the Contracts Act. A contract comes to existence, as stated before, at least if the both parties have reached a consensus both on committing to the contract and on the contents of the contract. In the matter in question, and in the light of the presented evidence, both committing to the contract and the contents of the contract have remained justifiably unclear to the defendant.

The district court states on these grounds that a contract on marketing services has not been made between the parties. A’s confirmation on the document received from Y has not, in light of the circumstances, formed a contract between the parties. Thus the payments charged by the plaintiff are not based on a contract between the parties.”

After Santa has answered X that he denies the invoice with reference to the relevant cases, X hasn’t bothered Santa with his bills.

Santa is happy and encourages everyone, who have been a victim of con-artists to defend their rights!

Merry Christmas!

Law, Jussi