What Meyer v. Uber Technologies means for the mobile app industry, consumers are agreeing to those lengthy terms and conditions, whether they've read them or not

This month saw the US Court of Appeals made a landmark decision in a high-profile case against Uber. The case of Meyer v. Uber Technologies confirmed the application of Californian law following the precedent of previous rulings by the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. In essence, Meyer accepted Uber's Ts&Cs, which define an arbitration procedure Meyer did not want to use to mediate a dispute with Uber because the procedure was felt to be one-sided. Meyer denied active acceptance; the court disagreed.

The result: that users are bound by online terms of use if, after being presented with 'reasonably conspicuous notice' of the terms, they voluntarily continue with the transaction by clicking on a 'Register' or another similar button. This act in effect confirms their assent to the terms, whether or not they actually read them.

The decision provides a bit of clarity on situations where courts will enforce terms of use, and has implications for the enforceability of terms of use across all mobile device apps.

There has been much confusion around the circumstances in which courts will enforce terms of use in the mobile app environment. It is for the most part this uncertainty which has generated large numbers of high-profile cases against Uber Technologies as well as other mobile app providers.

Despite a plethora of cases that enforce these terms, it seems many courts remain sceptical of consumer and employee agreements that they view as 'one-sided', especially as many users will, by their own admission, not have read them.

This is not the first time Uber has faced challenges to arbitration provision. It has, for example, been obliged to reach legal agreements with its own drivers before. Furthermore, in the case of Metter v. Uber Technologies, Inc, the Northern District of California denied Uber's motion to compel arbitration on the basis that their user was 'without inquiry notice of Uber's terms of service and without understanding that registering is a manifestation of assent to those terms.'

The big take-away from this case is the need for corporate change: it is essential that companies with consumer-facing products ensure that their methods of assent comply with best practices in this rapidly evolving area of the law.

Meanwhile, companies with arbitration clauses applicable to Californian consumers should review their arbitration provisions immediately and consider whether changes to their terms may be required.

More importantly for consumers, you can't assume that a court will back you in rejecting unreasonable terms of use on an app, just because you didn't read them and now discover that you don't like them.

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