Getting the most out of terms and conditions
Often businesses either have very brief written terms and conditions on which they do business or worse still, have no written terms at all. With competition between businesses still tough, having a solid set of terms of conditions in place will not only help prevent potential disputes later but also enhance professional profile.
Terms and conditions do not need to be lengthy or complex but they do need to be clear and comprehensive. Terms should cover all the key points of the transaction, such as delivery and payment dates and thought will also need to be given to legal issues such as implied terms and retention of title clauses. Many businesses forget that their terms also need to be practical and this is where you can add real value to customers.
Avoid “small print” and clearly explain any terms that could be contentious later. Where you are attempting to exclude or limit liability or impose a particularly onerous condition, you should make sure the customer’s attention is drawn to these terms or they are highlighted in some way.
Getting the terms validly incorporated
Many businesses issue their terms to customers in the mistaken belief that these terms will automatically govern the contract but the key is getting the terms validly incorporated. This is particularly important if you are contracting with customers who are also seeking to deal on their own standard terms. The general rule is that the party who sends their terms to the other side immediately prior to the start of the transaction will have their terms used to govern the contract. You should seek professional advice on the practical steps that you can take to ensure your terms are validly incorporated.