IP, Technology & Data

I was amused by this cautionary tale from Dundee that appeared in the papers last week. Essentially, a couple successfully sued their wedding venue for serving up bottles of Lambrini at the drinks reception at their wedding.

The decision hinged on whether the slightly sparkling, £1.49 a bottle, low-alcohol and made-from-pears drink, Lambrini, was “sparkling wine”, as promised in the receipt issued by the venue in advance of the wedding. Despite the venue’s argument that they had purchased the drink from the wine section of a local cash and carry, the judge held that Lambrini was not wine. It is perry (made from pears), a drink that is fundamentally different to wine (which is made from grapes). Indeed, the judge went as far as to refer to Lambrini as “frankly, an inferior product”.

The couple received around £500 in compensation, to cover their embarrassment and disappointment. I suspect, however, that having gone to court they may not end up remembering their big day for the right reasons, and winning £500 in damages is unlikely to make much of a difference.

It just goes to show the importance of ensuring that your contract clearly describes what you are buying, and why you should not include vague or uncertain descriptions that are open to interpretation. In this case, it may have been wise for the couple to confirm in advance exactly what wine would be served.

Mind you, even then, that might not be enough. I spent a couple of months last year going around wedding venues, and was constantly amazed at the number of venues that proclaimed to offer a “champagne reception”, but at which it transpired they would serve (non-Champagne) sparkling wine. Nothing wrong with that (provided that it is a nice bottle of Proseccco or Cremant de Limoux rather than Lambrini), but if the contract says a “Champagne reception” then I would expect a Protected Designation of Origin Champagne to be served.

Maybe “sparkling wine reception” doesn’t have the same ring to it.

PS The future Mrs Sloan and I are leaving nothing to chance in relation to our wedding later this year; we are BYOB’ing (sparkling wine and all).

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Martin Sloan

Partner at Brodies LLP
Martin is a partner in Brodies Technology, Information and Outsourcing group and has wide experience of advising clients on technology procurement and IT and business process outsourcing projects. Martin also advises on data protection (including the GDPR), and general technology and intellectual property law, and has a particular interest in the laws applying to social media and new technology such as mobile apps, contactless/mobile payments, and smart metering.
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