IT is important to get things right when considering your business terms and conditions (T&Cs). Your company should have T&Cs that are tailored to suit your business, not just generic terms and conditions that could leave you and your business open to difficulties. Liz Appleyard, Commercial Partner at regional law firm Tollers Solicitors explains why this is so important.
Q. Why should I have bespoke T&Cs?
Whilst general T&Cs from an online resource may look both professional and appropriate; it is always advisable to seek legal advice on bespoke T&Cs suitable for your business.
Most recently, Seabourne Freight, a ferry company granted a contract by the UK government, was criticised for their T&Cs, which made reference to checking goods before 'agreeing to pay for any meal/order' and prohibiting customers making 'false orders'. It later transpired that their T&Cs had been adapted from a fast food takeaway delivery company's T&Cs.
Unfortunately, immediate rectification of the T&Cs did not prevent a media backlash for Seabourne Freight. The errors were first pointed out on Twitter with Labour MPs Tom Watson and Tonia Antoniazzi quickly making very public observations.
This occurrence highlights the importance of bespoke T&Cs. Every business is different and their T&Cs should be drafted to incorporate all of the business' requirements.
Q. What else should I be considering?
1. Consumers - If you sell goods of supply services to consumers, business owners need to consider the Consumer Contract Regulations 2013 (the Regulations) and the Consumer Rights Act 2015.
The Regulations impose a requirement for the business to supply certain information to the consumer about the product or service before the distance contract is agreed.
Consumer Right to Cancel
In certain circumstances, a consumer has the right to cancel a distance contract. If this is the case, then the trader must provide a model cancellation form to the consumer. As with the information requirement, the consumer should be provided with this prior to agreeing the distance contract.
Additional Requirements for Telephone Conclusion
Where a contract is concluded over the phone, the trader's identity and the commercial reason for the call must be disclosed to the consumer at the beginning of the call. Whilst the trader does not have to go through all additional information over the phone with the consumer, the consumer must be told where to access this information at a later time.
Additional Requirements for Electronic Conclusion
Contracts which are to be concluded online must provide additional information to the consumer too. At the beginning of the ordering process, the trader must confirm if there are any delivery restrictions and also which means of payment are acceptable.
2. Limitations of Liability
As a supplier it is important that you manage risk. The inclusion of carefully drafted provisions which exclude or limit your liability is key.
3. Important legal terms need to be covered and not just key commercial terms.
Retention of title, termination, data protection, ownership of intellectual property and confidentiality can all be important points to consider.
If you would like to know more about how the Commercial Services Team at Tollers can assist you with your terms and conditions, or any other business queries, contact them on 01604 258558 or visit www.tollers.co.uk