UK: "Breach Of Any Material Term" Means Same As "Material Breach Of A Term": And Illustration Of Importance Of Including A Term Requiring Compliance With Laws

Last Updated: 29 July 2013
Article by Mark Alsop

Soccer Savings (Scotland) Ltd v Scottish Building Society [2013] ScotCS CSOH 51

Soccer Savings Limited (NB not the claimant) established a football affinity savings scheme with Dunfermline Building Society under which SSL undertook with DBS to make introductions to members of the Scottish Football Association in return for commission. At its peak, the scheme had nearly 16,000 account holders and 22 partner football clubs. DBS ran into financial difficulties and was taken over by the Nationwide Building Society, which was perceived by SSL as having less interest in the scheme.

As a result, SSL entered into discussions with the Scottish Building Society to set up an alternative scheme. SBS had concerns about being in dispute with DBS, so SSL set up a new shelf company, the claimant here SSSL, "to operate at arms' length from the existing scheme". On that basis, SSSL and SBS signed an agreement for a new scheme. The agreement between SSSL and SBS provided that either party could terminate if the other committed a breach of any material term of the agreement. There was also provision that the parties would use reasonable endeavours to comply with the Data Protection Act and that they would take appropriate technical and organisational measures against unauthorised or unlawful processing of personal data (clause 13).

It was key to success of the new scheme that a significant proportion of DBS accounts transferred to SBS. SSSL eventually signed contracts with a few clubs, but was disappointed with the lack of new accounts and account transfers. To remedy this, SSL wrote to some DBS scheme account holders enclosing promotional materials and inviting them to transfer their accounts to SBS. This resulted in DBS terminating its agreement with SSL for flagrant breach. Nationwide pointed out that DBS customers had not consented to use of their personal data for the marketing of a similar product by another financial services provider. Fearing that the account holders would be transferred elsewhere, SSSL then persuaded two clubs to write letters to their fans promoting the new scheme, claiming to SBS that it and the football clubs were joint data controllers of fan details.

Eventually SBS also terminated its agreement with SSSL. In the litigation that ensued, two of the points for consideration were when a party could terminate under the clause which permitted termination if the other party committed a breach of any material term of the agreement and whether SBS could terminate for SSSL's non-compliance with the Data Protection Act.

The Outer Court of the Scottish Court of Session (broadly equivalent to the Court of Appeal) held that:

  • "Breach of any material term" ought to be equated with material breach. If the parties were intending to "innovate" on the common law rule that a contracting party needs substantial material breach, they would have chosen much clearer words. It would give rise to considerable uncertainty if a party were entitled to terminate the agreement on the basis that the other party committed any breach, however minor, of any term that was of significance. How would the courts determine which were the terms that both parties considered significant and which were not? The Court also approved the view that a clause providing for termination on the occurrence of any breach of contract applied only to repudiatory breach.
  • SSSL's breaches of clause 13 in relation to data protection went to the heart of the contract because SSSL was obliged to offer SBS a service with a major component being the transfer of a significant number of accountholders to the new scheme and entitled SBS to terminate. Constraints of data protection legislation undermined SSSL's business plan and contributed materially to failure of the new scheme. SSL did not have consent of the data subjects to make data available to football clubs or to promote SBS. For these purposes, SSSL and SSL were treated as the same person.


The case shows that the courts are unwilling to allow a party to terminate for any breach, unless the contract very clearly says so - the courts do not wish to permit a contracting party to escape its obligations for trifling breach by the other party. The breach of data protection rules consequences shows the desirability of including in contracts an obligation to comply with all laws - if the provision had not been in the contract, then it would have been more difficult for SBS to terminate (and the same would go for claiming damages).

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions