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Part 4: Business Terms and Conditions
Part 4 of the ‘Starting a Business’ series
Once you’ve sought to regulate your relationships with your business partners, you need to think about doing the same with your customers.
It is commercially prudent to have a clear set of terms upon which you are prepared to do business and on which you can rely. A set of terms and conditions, or “T&C’s” as they are sometimes called, serve to create certainty and clarity as to each party’s obligations and responsibilities.
A well drafted set of terms and conditions can help to avoid mismatched expectations and can aid in the resolution of any issues that may arise during the course of your business transactions. Written terms are mutually beneficial as they set out not only your obligations but also those of your customers. Amongst other things they can include your payment terms, levels of service, and a disputes procedure. They can limit your liability in the event something goes wrong and even disclaim your liability in certain circumstances. For instance, for a failure caused by a force majeure or an unforeseen event. They may also protect your intellectual property and set out your legal obligations, such as informing consumers of their cancellation rights or how you will handle their data.
To be effective it is vital to provide your terms and conditions at outset of your business relationship with a customer. It is not sufficient to present your customers with T&C’s as the basis for your dealings with them after the fact. For example, on the back of an invoice after goods have been delivered or a service has been provided. If dealt with properly terms and conditions can also help deal with dissatisfied customers by pointing them to their rights and obligations. They help to minimise legal disputes and the chances of you being taken to court or you having to take court action against one of your customers. In short well drafted T&C’s will serve to protect your business going forward.
Written by Shelley Bonney, Corporate Solicitor at WSP Solicitors
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