Have you checked the small print?

For most new businesses it is essential to commence trading at the earliest opportunity. In the euphoria generated by seeing a business idea turn itself into a stream of customers or clients, it is easy to lose sight of the importance of putting commercial safeguards in place before you start trading. Some business relationships inevitably fray over time and the prospect of litigation could prove an expensive reality check, especially in the current economic climate.

The simplest way for any business (whether a limited company, partnership or sole trader) to protect its trading position for goods or services is to rely upon its own bespoke Terms and Conditions of business.

As a non-exhaustive guide, these usually include spelling out the mechanics of payment including interest for non-payment, timing and place of delivery and the liability of both parties throughout the transaction.

It is essential for business owners supplying goods or services to understand the rules of “reasonableness” as prescribed by the Unfair Contracts Terms Act so that their terms relating to pricing policy or “cooling-off” policy can actually be enforced. By relying on a professionally drafted set of terms and conditions they can do so.

Terms and Conditions of business are not only essential for new businesses but also for existing companies or traders who may currently rely on order forms and invoices, perhaps “lifted “ from their competitors, to determine their terms of commerce.

As I find with most of my business clients, the process of drafting terms and conditions is a two-way process so that each set of terms and conditions are unique to each particular business. Once in place, the terms can be used repeatedly as the contract for every commercial transaction.

By Director and Commercial Solicitor, Grant McCall.

The Commercial Team at AMD Solicitors offer advice and information on legal issues for businesses (including a free first half hour consultation). E-mail commercial@amdsolicitors.com or telephone 0117 962 1205.

This article is provided for general information purposes only and represents our understanding of the relevant law and practice as at the date of uploading. This article should not be relied upon as legal advice pertaining to any specific factual situation. Legal decisions should be made only after proper consultation with a legal professional of your choosing.

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