Reading and understanding the terms and conditions of online consumer contracts requires over 14 years of education, according to a new study, The Duty to Read the Unreadable.
“The average readability level of these agreements is comparable to the usual score of articles in academic journals, which typically do not target the general public,” say the report’s authors, Uri Benoliel of Ramat Gan Law School and Shmuel I Becher of the Victoria University of Wellington.
Under US law, consumers are expected and presumed to read their contracts, while suppliers are generally not required to offer readable contracts. And this asymmetry creates a serious public policy challenge, say Benoliel and Becher.
“Put simply, consumers might be expected to read contracts that are, in fact, rather unreadable. This, in turn, undermines market efficiency and raises fairness concerns.”