Many businesses use standard terms without really considering how useful they are or even considering if they are appropriate to their business. More often than not these terms are either taken from elsewhere or even verbal arrangements are entered into. Both scenarios bring with them their own problems.
Why use terms and conditions?
If you are not clear as to what your terms of business are, it is very difficult for your customers or other parties such as your employees, sub-contractors or suppliers to know exactly what they are as well.
The idea of terms and conditions is to clearly set out important contractual points such as payment terms, limitation of liability and delivery terms. The last thing you want is to be subject to a contract which is either irrelevant, unenforceable or indeed more onerous than anticipated.
These sorts of issues lead to added expense and time in terms of untangling yourself from the problems. So therefore it is better to get your terms and conditions appropriately drawn up. It is also important to understand what they say in case an issue does arise.
What to include?
First of all, focus on who your customer is. Contracting with the general consumer has more limitations than if your customers are businesses. This is because you need to reference the various consumer regulations.
Secondly, consider key provisions dealing with payment terms, delivery terms, limitation of your liability where possible and the responsibilities of each party.
Once you have your terms, it is essential to bring these terms to the customer’s attention. It is always useful to get an acknowledgement from the customer to state that they have been received, read and understood.
Once drafted, don’t forget to review your terms and conditions on a regular basis. Why? Well, new legislation or case law can affect your business. Not just in terms of contract but also industry specific requirements. You may also have changed the direction of your business of introduced new services which may require inclusion or indeed new contracts.
If you have any questions surrounding the use of terms and conditions or indeed would like something drafted for your business, please do contact Whittock Consulting Limited.