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Terms & Conditions - The Lifeblood Of Your Business

Terms & Conditions - The Lifeblood Of Your Business

Terms & Conditions - The Lifeblood Of Your Business

Date: June 07, 2017

Contracts are the lifeblood of a business. From that multi-million pound order you get (or hope to get) from a customer to the purchase of the paper for the office printer, everything you do as a business is based on contracts.

Despite this, many businesses do not think about their contracts until it is too late, normally when they are in a dispute with someone. With some contracts, a business may not be in a position to be able to dictate terms. However, there are some where a business can, and should, look to put its own standard terms in place.

Many businesses cannibalise terms and conditions from other businesses who put them up on their websites. However, while they may think that this is a canny way of not spending money on solicitors, it can seriously backfire. Here are just some of the problems with not putting in proper terms and conditions:

  • They may be seriously out of date. Law changes very quickly, both in terms of new legislation and also the interpretation of that legislation. For example, the law relating to contracts between a business and its consumer customers radically changed in 2015. Terms drafted before then may not reflect all the changes. Having your terms and conditions drawn up properly will make sure that they are fully up to date and apply all the most recent legislation.

  • They may not take into account the relevant law for your business. The place you got them from may seem like they do the same thing as you, but there may be subtle differences which affect the way the terms are drafted. They may be drafted predominantly with consumers in mind, whereas you might deal with business customers. Or the regulatory system in which you work may be entirely different.

  • They may not be drafted for UK businesses. The internet is a great place for international business, but it does mean that a lot of documents originate from overseas. These countries have entirely different legal systems and just changing the bit at the bottom to refer to the contract being subject to the law of England and Wales may not be enough.

  • Many businesses want to cover of particular issues that they have had with their customers. Other people may not have had the same issues and therefore their terms will not cover the specifics.

  • You will miss out on the additional advice which surrounds the drafting of terms and conditions. The terms you have “borrowed” from someone else may be perfectly fine, but if they are not properly incorporated into your contract with your customer, they are not any use at all. A solicitor can advise you on how you need to form your contracts in order to get the protection from your terms.

  • By the way, did we mention that it’s illegal? Just as copying someone’s website is breach of their copyright, copying their terms is also breach. One of my clients found out that their terms had been stolen by a competitor because the competitor had put them straight on their website without removing my client’s name from them. Cue some very stroppy legal letters and a grovelling apology from the competitor!

Our experts can advise you on your terms and conditions and make sure that you don’t have to borrow them from the internet. With our specialist team of business lawyers being available across our 10 offices then you are never far away from trusted legal advice for your business  - so contact us and make Coles your new business partner today.