By Gerald Couldrake
Howes Percival LLP
I WAS never a believer in Margaret Thatcher's stance that manufacturing did not matter, that somehow the UK economy could prosper on just the service industry.
I firmly believe that our capacity to make things is at the core of the UK's economy. A successful manufacturing operation will create far more wealth via the supply chain it creates, than can a multi-billion hedge fund manager based in Mayfair.
Although I am a fully paid up member of the service sector, nothing excites me more than visiting a brand new manufacturing client and walking around the shop floor to see things being made and how it is done.
As lawyers advising Northamptonshire's manufacturers every day, we know the stress points and what the solutions are. Very often it lies in robust contract terms that are properly incorporated into your contracts.
This is a mix of careful drafting derived from a thorough understanding of the business (that's why a site visit is so helpful) together with staff who have been properly trained on how to implement those trading terms. We often provide a training session as the last part of a programme to introduce revised or new trading terms to a client.
For exports, the use of well-drafted and appropriate terms is doubly important. For example, do your terms cover both what law governs the contract (hopefully English law) and the venue for determining any disputes (hopefully the English courts)? If not, (and we have seen this in practice where only the choice of law is covered, and not the choice of venue) you could end up, for example, litigating your dispute under English law but in the South Korean court. Not an ideal, cost-effective outcome.
Just occasionally, we are called in to help a client when things go wrong. A customer won't pay, or a supplier wants to change a delivery date. Having a robust, comprehensive set of trading terms in place and incorporated into the contract will give you an excellent chance of being able to negotiate a satisfactory outcome. Where a contract has been made without a good set of trading terms in place (which happens more frequently than it should!) your ability to negotiate is weak and the outcome is likely to be much less favourable.
For a firm foundation on which to develop a successful manufacturing and exporting business, there is no substitute for robust and relevant trading terms. For further help please contact firstname.lastname@example.org