Don't forget the Small Print!

Grant Articles

Solicitor Grant McCall, Commercial Law Specialist with AMD Solicitors offers advice to new and existing businesses

For most new businesses it is essential to commence trading at the earliest opportunity. However in the euphoria generated, by seeing a business idea turn itself into a stream of customers, 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.

How can a business protect itself?

The simplest way for any business to protect its trading position is to rely upon its own bespoke Terms and Conditions of business. As a non-exhaustable 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.

The Unfair Contract Terms Act places a requirement of reasonableness for certain contract terms and conditions. The intention was to protect the customer from unfair terms and conditions in business to consumer contracts. The legal drafting in this situation must be seen to be reasonable in order for certain terms and conditions to remain enforceable.

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 ad 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.

So, to return to the opening sentence of this article, don't neglect the small print! It should be essential for every business to be trading on the basis of terms and conditions that suit the ambition and practicalities of that business.

Grant and the other members of the Commercial Team offer further advice upon legal issues for businesses (including a free first half hour consultation). E-mail commercial@amdsolicitors.com or telephone 0117 3731319.

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