For any business, your terms and conditions (or T&Cs) set out the legal basis on which you trade with your customers. They help to clearly establish what customers should expect from you when doing business with you and can be vital if you need to enforce your side of a transaction, such as collecting payment.
Well-written terms and conditions can also be absolutely essential if you ever become involved in a dispute with a customer or client, whether over day-to-day issues such as a refund or late payment, or more formal legal action, such as a consumer rights claims or a professional negligence claim.
Terms and conditions are also generally incredibly good value for money. While it is strongly recommended to have an experienced commercial contracts solicitor produce your T&Cs for you, which does mean a certain amount of up front cost, you can then typically use them for years and years without further expense, unless the way your business operates changes significantly.
Even if you have terms and conditions which were professionally drafted it is important to regularly review these.
What to include in your business’s terms and conditions
Your terms and conditions should aim to provide complete clarity over what will happen in any situation that is likely to arise in the course of you doing business. Exactly what you will need to include will therefore depend on the type of business you are running, but typical T&Cs will include:
- A clear explanation of what products or services you will be providing
- Payment terms, including when payment is due by
- Details of any interest which is due 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
Is it okay to copy terms and conditions from another business?
Sometimes business owners think they can save time and money by simply copying the terms and conditions for their company from another similar business.
This is a very bad idea for two reasons: firstly, you could potentially be infringing on that other business’s copyright, opening yourself up to potential legal action, and secondly, your terms and conditions need to be tailored to your business.
If you try to simply copy another company’s T&Cs, reword them or use a free template, there is a very good chance that important issues will not be covered. It is also possible that the business you are copying from did not have their terms and conditions professionally drafted in the first place.
Even similar businesses will not typically operate in exactly the same way or offer exactly the same products or services, so your terms and conditions have to be tailored to you to ensure you have all the right protections in place.
Get expert advice on creating effective terms and conditions for your business
Bird & Co Solicitors is a long-established law firm supporting a wide range of businesses across England and Wales with all aspects of commercial contracts, including terms and conditions. From our 3 East Midlands offices in Grantham, Newark and Lincoln, we offer an efficient, commercially astute legal service to help your business thrive.
To speak to our expert commercial contracts solicitors about terms and conditions for you business, call us today on 01476 372 037 or use our contact page to find details of your nearest office.