Whether your business sells products or services or perhaps a combination of both, it is important to have in place good terms and conditions of trade.
Terms and conditions might not be at the top of your to do list but they are absolutely vital for the protection of your business.
What should be included in standard terms depends very much on whether the business sells to consumers, other businesses or to both and also on how sales are conducted, but in essence your terms should set out:
- the duties of both customer and supplier,
- a description of the products or services to be provided,
- payment terms,
- timelines for delivery,
- the duration of the agreement and steps required to terminate it,
- the law which governs the contract.
Some businesses, for example those engaging in online sales to consumers, are obliged to have terms of sale and what must and must not be included in the terms is highly regulated.
Terms of sale are important for determining what your business is required to provide, ensuring that your business gets paid (and is not obliged to continue supplying if it is not paid) and for limiting your business’s liability when things go wrong.
Even if a business has terms and conditions which claim to limit its liability it is important to consider whether any such terms are likely to be effective and to be aware that, while a term which seeks to exclude all liability may appear to offer the best protection, it is highly unlikely to be effective and so in fact may offer no protection at all.
Another critical factor in relation to the value of your terms and conditions is ensuring that the terms are successfully incorporated into contracts with your customers and are not likely to be displaced by a customer’s standard terms of purchase.
A common reason why a business’s standard terms of sale might not apply to its contracts with customers is that the terms have not been drafted to reflect the business’s sales procedures or other contractual documents such as quotations or order acknowledgements.
No two businesses will have exactly the same order documentation or sales procedures, which is one very good reason why it is important to have terms prepared for and tailored specifically to your own business and not to rely on a set of generic terms or terms originally prepared for another business. It is also wise to revisit and update your terms at regular intervals as circumstances can change.
If you need help drawing up or reviewing your terms and conditions of business, contact our commercial lawyers on 01782 205000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org