A blow-by-blow account of the terms

In mid-2020, CRT commenced a consultation on the private boat licence terms and conditions. They did not invite comment on the whole document, but limited the consultation to nine items of change.

NABO made three submissions: on the consultation; on the privacy policy and a third on the readability of the terms and privacy documents. The consultation closed in December 2020. We chased CRT on several occasions for responses to our submissions. CRT did not ask us for other assistance on revisions to the wording.

On 24th May 2021, CRT announced the publication of the results of the consultation. This comprised a press release, a close out commentary on the consultation and a first version of the 2021 terms document. CRT said: ‘The consultation received widespread support, with 78% of respondents in agreement across all nine proposals, ranging from 63% to 88% for individual proposals. The consultation was completed by over 3,300 individuals, around 10% of our boat licence holders. The changes will come into effect from 1 June 2021 and will be applied to renewals and new licences from that date.’ 

On 27th May 2021 NABO Council met to review the documents and consider our immediate responses.

On 28th May, we received a response letter from CRT covering the privacy policy issues. This successfully resolves a number of issues about the CRT documents, with a commitment to modify them. On the same day, CRT published the revised documents and some but not all licence holders have received emails. The changes could not be identified and were not reported.

NABO made our first response on 29th May, noting the fact that the revised terms and conditions are materially different than the 2015 terms as well as those that were consulted upon. Also the introduction of the terms and conditions with just six days’ notice is insulting to boaters. We noted that there is no explanation of the legal basis of some of the more controversial changes. We urged a delay in their introduction until the Trust has consulted upon them.

On 4th June, NABO made a second response to CRT highlighting the poor quality of the document and raising concerns over clause 10.10 (‘The boat must not display an association with, or advertise, any company, business or service without our express consent in writing’).

Around 5th June, we noticed a second version of the terms on the CRT website, with some, but not all, of the typographical errors corrected. The changes could not be identified and were not reported. Boaters were not informed.

On 7th June, CRT said that it would not apply some part of terms until 16th June, following legal correspondence with NBTA.

On 15th June, CRT sent an email to boaters on revised terms. It said: ‘The Trust has made changes to its new Leisure Licence Terms and Conditions. Two conditions (previously 4.3 and 10.10) included in error have been removed.’ Many other changes were made but could not be identified and were not reported. This version is marked General Terms and Conditions. 15.6.21 v.2, but the file name is unchanged.

On 15th June, we received a response letter from CRT covering the terms and readability submissions.

On 19th June NABO Council met to further review the final documents and agreed the following action plan: first to write to members with our key concerns and ask for their views. Secondly to respond to CRT’s recent comments on the consultation response. Thirdly to approach other organisations to identify areas of agreement and agree a joint approach to CRT and media to publicise our concerns.

David Fletcher