Legal vs Literature: Which car manufacturer’s documents are longer than Shakespeare’s Hamlet?

Date Posted 29th September 2022
Read Time 7 min read

Have you ever read a company’s terms and conditions, cookie policy or privacy statement? We’re guessing that for most of you, the answer is no. Why is that? Is it because they’re not useful to know in case of an accident or a change in circumstance? Or, is it because they are far too long to read through? We’re assuming it’s the latter.

Hippo Leasing analysed the word count of legal pages of car manufacturers and then used WordsToTime and MinutesHours to calculate the reading time of each one. Hippo then sourced word counts from other pieces of literature.

We looked at the world’s biggest car manufacturers, plus some famous global companies, and analysed how long it would take you to read their legal documentation compared to famous works of literature. And the findings are intriguing…

That’s right! According to our research, VW’s incredibly lengthy legal documentation is so long that it’s the same as reading through Shakespeare’s Hamlet screenplay, twice. We’ve calculated that when you compile all of Volkwagen’s legal documents, they take over seven hours to read and it tops the list of the longest legal documentation from a car manufacturer in our study.

Not only would it be like reading Hamlet twice, but it would also take the same time to read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe one and a half times, or read The Gruffalo eight and a half times.

At the other end of the scale, we find Jeep. Reading all their legal documents would only take around 43 minutes total – that’s nearly 10 times shorter than VW’s documents! Reading Jeep’s documents would still take about the same time as it would to read the classic children’s book The Gruffalo or read eight full-length news articles, according to our study.

When we take the average length of the tech giants (Apple and TikTok) and compare it with the average length of car manufacturers’ legal documents, we find that tech legal documents are 50% longer than those from car manufacturers. 

The 11 car manufacturers that we analysed have an average legal doc word count of 27,606, which is about the same as reading George Orwell’s Animal Farm at around three and a half hours. In comparison, Apple and Tik Tok’s legal documents average 41,383 words, which is about the same as Tesla, Nissan, Honda and Jeep combined, at around five hours and 20 minutes.

“At Hippo Leasing, we want to raise awareness about the typical T&Cs involved when it comes to purchasing or leasing cars,” says Head of Sales, Rebecca Marsden. “We know T&Cs can be long and sometimes feel irrelevant or an inconvenience, but the truth is that they are very important and should be read fully so you are aware of a company’s policy and your rights.

“If you fail to do so you could put yourself at risk of giving out your personal information unintentionally and even risk financial penalties if you break any of the T&Cs,” she adds.

Five points in your car’s T&Cs that you need to know

Here are five of the most important typical car-related terms and conditions all new car owners, or leasing customers, should be aware of:

Ownership and Legal Responsibility

Unless you buy a vehicle outright, the car you are buying on finance or leasing will belong to the company you are purchasing/leasing from until they have received funds to the value of the total purchase price. You will also be responsible for any loss or damage from the moment the vehicle is delivered to you.


When financing a vehicle with a company, if you wish to cancel or withdraw from the signed agreement, for any reason other than those stated in its clauses, the company reserves the right to charge a cancellation fee and withhold any deposit for services provided. These services might include things like removal of a vehicle on sale for a period of time, production of paperwork, preparation of the cancelled vehicle or processing of documents.

Privacy Policy

A Privacy Policy outlines what the company you’re liaising with will do with your personal information, how they keep it secure, where and how they collect it, as well as your rights concerning the personal information they hold about you.

These policies apply if you interact with the company through visiting a showroom, over the phone, online, on a mobile application or interacting with them on social media.

  • Your Personal Information

‘Personal data’ is essentially information from which a person can be identified. The company you are liaising with can learn and use personal information including;

  1. Information that you provide to a company such as your name, address, date of birth etc.
  2. Information about the services that the company provides to you.
  3. Information required to make decisions about your application, such as employment details, financial position etc.
  4. The company will also hold your information on electronic communications you receive from them.

Your Rights

You have several rights under data protection legislation which, in certain circumstances, you may be able to exercise concerning the personal information a company process about you. Here are five of your key rights regarding data protection:

  1. Access To Your Personal Information 

You have the right to see a copy of the information that a company hold about you or your company upon written request.

  1. Updating and Amending Your Personal Information 

You have the right to ask that the information a company holds about you is corrected by updating/changing your profile preferences or by contacting the company.

  1. Restricting Processing

You have the right to opt-out of being contacted and ask that a company stop contacting you.

  1. Closing Your Account/Delete Your Personal Information

You have the right to request that a company close your account and/or delete your personal information from their database.

  1. Objecting to the use of your personal data

You have the right to stop your data from being used for direct marketing and the processing of a product or service if you no longer require or have use for it.

Treating Customers Fairly (TCF)

TCF is designed to ensure the business you’re dealing with puts the interests of the customer (you) at the heart of their business, as well as the integrity of the market.

TCF is found in Principle 6 of the FCA Handbook which explains that “a firm must pay due regard to the interests of its customers and treat them fairly.” TCF is also tied to 4 of the 11 guiding principles, which are:

Principle 1 – A firm must conduct its business with integrity.

Principle 7 – A firm must pay due regard to the information needs of its clients and communicate information to them in a way that is clear, fair and not misleading.

Principle 8 – A firm must manage conflicts of interest fairly, both between itself and its customers and between a customer and another client.

Principle 9 – A firm must take reasonable care to ensure the suitability of its advice and discretionary decisions for any customer who is entitled to rely upon its judgement.

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