Not many things in business are as important as having a strong set of terms and conditions. It builds credibility and establishes your business as a professional entity that takes trading seriously. But most importantly, it adds protection for you as a business in your dealings with clients.
So why is it that so many businesses, especially SMEs, choose to operate a business without your own terms, terms which have been copied from another source or choose to operate on a one-page agreement that lacks any bite?
It just doesn’t make good business sense.
With the reality that Brexit looms ever closer, it is important that you take a hard look at your current terms and conditions and contract management procedure. Especially if you deal with clients or suppliers outside of the UK.
Whether you believe that nothing is going to change, or the entire world is going to implode on 29th March, a lack of strong terms is not a risk worth taking.
An example of how not to use your terms and conditions can be seen in the case of a ferry company recently winning a contract for a ‘no deal’ Brexit ferry service.
Firstly, they have to be applauded, and the Government scolded, for winning a £13m contract to provide extra ferry crossings in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit without any ferries to actually provide this service – a masterful piece of negotiation on their part.
Secondly, however, it is being reported that this company copied their terms and conditions from an online takeaway service – not so masterful. With mention of the words ‘meal/order’ found in their terms, it is quite clear that these terms were not drafted with the care and skill required to ensure that it was bespoke to their business of providing ferry services.
Not only have they lost credibility due to this, but they should also be questioning what legal effect do the terms actually provide if they are not specifically for their services? It is a point that many tend to overlook when drafting their terms.
So, unless you would like to see your credibility sail away like this company’s, it may be time to ensure that your terms are fit for purpose and give you the adequate protection you need in a post-Brexit future.
Jonathan graduated in LLB law from the University of the West of England in 2012. He then completed the Legal Practice Course in 2013 before working with some of Southampton’s top law firms.