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Making your terms and conditions work for you

Reviewing terms and conditions (T&Cs) is often viewed as a dreary and potentially costly job which can be overlooked.  However, with a little time and consideration, a business can gain real advantages and efficiencies by adopting a well-considered set of T&Cs.  Used well, they ensure that your business is on the front foot in its relationships with its customers and clients, and provides a solid foundation for doing business.

A suitable and effective set of T&Cs will differ from business to business (even between competitors).  Careful calibration will help you manage your customer relationships in a number of critical areas such as price point and increases, specification and expectations, payment terms, debt risk and limiting/excluding liability. These areas (amongst others), individually and collectively, can be refined to help you streamline your business, reducing the number of disputes (and size) thus freeing up time to run your business more effectively.

Good T&Cs are bespoke, and depend on many factors including:

  • What is the profile of your average customer in terms of size, stability and level of business?
  • What disputes have been raised previously, in relation to your goods/services?
  • What insurance coverage you have and how it sits with attempts to limit and exclude liability?
  • What terms are offered by your competitors?  Can you provide more attractive terms, or do they address risks which affect your business too?
  • Whether you belong to a trade association and, if so, what are their requirements?

Once you have a good working set of T&Cs, it is critical to ensure that they apply and are not, for example, sent after the contract has been agreed (too late!).  It is also best practice to include them on a range of pre-contract documentation such as quotation forms, brochures and catalogues, acknowledgment of confirmation of order forms and, possibly, delivery notes (some of which are helpful in an ongoing relationship).

If you would like any advice on any of the issues raised in this article, please contact Simon Bean at Everys Solicitors on 01404 43431.  Simon is a Commercial Solicitor with extensive experience in contractual disputes between businesses.   He provides clear and practical advice to businesses across the South West and beyond.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to constitute legal advice.  For legal advice in connection with the above, please contact us directly.

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