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Are terms and conditions a legal requirement for businesses?

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Terms and conditions (T&Cs) are an essential agreement which set out the legal basis upon which businesses trade with their customers. They are used to protect intellectual property rights, limit or exclude liability and establish a contractual framework governing the relationship between a business and its customers or clients.

It is not a legal requirement for your business to include written T&Cs. However, it is strongly recommended that you work with a specialist commercial contracts lawyer to draft together a set of standard terms to rely on if your business is ever unfortunately involved in a dispute with a customer or client.

What should be included in your business’s terms and conditions?

T&Cs should provide clarity over every potential situation that may arise in the course of you doing business. Typical T&Cs will tend to include:

  • A clear explanation of what products or services you will be providing
  • Payment terms, including when payment will fall due
  • Details of any interest which will accrue on late payment
  • Any relevant timelines for delivery of your products/services
  • Any relevant guarantees or warranties
  • What action can be taken if you do not deliver or the customer does not pay promptly
  • What will happen if either party wants to end the relationships and any notice period/cancellation fees for doing so
  • The relevant laws governing the transaction

It should be noted that there is no ‘one size fits all’ model when it comes to drafting T&Cs, so yours should be written with your specific business objectives in mind.

Can you copy terms and conditions from another business?

It may seem tempting to avoid the hassle and expense of professionally drafting your T&Cs by simply copying another business’s or by using a free online template. However, this would be ill advised as there is a strong likelihood you will omit important issues and you could potentially be infringing on the other business’s copyright, opening yourself up to unnecessary legal action.

Even businesses within the same industry will not operate in exactly the same manner, so your T&Cs need to be specifically tailored to your business to ensure you have all the correct protections in place.

Are terms and conditions legally binding?

T&Cs can be used to protect your business, but they are not automatically legally binding. As T&Cs are not signed and accepted in the same manner as traditional contracts, their enforceability is often misunderstood.

For T&Cs to be deemed legally binding, they must have been accepted by customers or clients. If a customer or client did not need to accept your business’s T&Cs prior to engaging your services, then they are not bound to them.

It is vital that your T&Cs are clearly presented so no case can be made to suggest the user was not previously aware of the T&Cs. For example, if your business’s T&Cs are hidden away on a webpage that is difficult to navigate to, then users will not be expected to find it of their own accord.

The content within the T&Cs also needs to be written in a clear, concise manner avoiding technical jargon and acronyms that your customers may not otherwise understand. Content which is deemed to be too technical will have a negative impact on its enforceability.

Get expert advice on creating effective terms and conditions for your business

If you are looking for expert guidance on the creation of T&Cs for your business, then get in touch with Bird & Co today. Our specialist commercial contracts team have years of experience supporting a wide range of businesses in all aspects of commercial contracts, so will be able to support you with any query you may have.

To get in touch with our expert team of commercial solicitors about T&Cs for your business, give us a call, fill in our online enquiry form or visit one of our offices in Grantham, Newark or Lincoln.