Few things ignite more passion and energy than launching your own business. For many, it’s the start of a lifelong dream of building an enterprise that allows them to deliver the kind of customer service and quality of work they have always dreamed of.
Whether you’re at the start of this journey or well on your way, one thing that will contribute to your success is having a robust set of Terms and Conditions (T&Cs). In this article, we’ll explain why Ts&Cs are so important and provide guidance on how to draft Terms and Conditions for your business.
What are Terms and Conditions?
Your T&Cs set out how you trade, a contract between you and your customers regulating how you do business. They can either set out what you have agreed with a particular purchaser or be a blanket, non-negotiable set of terms for every customer on a ‘take it or leave it’ basis.
Are Terms and Conditions legally binding?
Yes, they will usually form part of a legally binding contract. To ensure you’re covered should a dispute arise, make sure your T&Cs are visible on your website and form part of your onboarding process when you take on a new client. It’s best practice to direct all new customers to your T&Cs and have them sign the document to say they have read them or create an online click agreement.
Are Terms and Conditions a contract?
As long as you can show that the other party viewed and accepted your organisation’s Terms and Conditions before or when they purchased goods and services, then yes, your business’s T&Cs will form a contract between you and the customer.
What should Terms and Conditions include?
Certain elements of your T&Cs will be unique to your business; however, most will contain information on:
- The goods and services you’re selling
- The price of your goods and services includes information about price increases if you sell an ongoing service
- How and when the consumer must pay for their product or service
- Any penalties applied for overdue payments
- Delivery details and provisions regarding carriage risks and insurance
- Limitations on your liability, for example, if the goods are lost during delivery
- Your cancellation and renewal policies
- Data protection policies and procedures
- Consumer indemnities (circumstances where the client must pay you for any losses or expenses incurred)
- Intellectual property and confidentiality clauses
- Dispute resolution
Where should I place my Terms and Conditions?
Position your T&Cs in a prominent place on your website and ensure they’re easily accessible through hyperlinks. If you require a sign-up form from new customers, acceptance of your website terms should be mandatory and definitive acceptance of them sought, e.g. “click this box / click this button to accept our Terms and Conditions”.
Can I change my business’s Terms and Conditions?
Most T&Cs include a provision that allows the business to change the Terms and Conditions at any time. If you have regular clients or customers, it’s best to inform them in writing that your standard T&Cs have changed and what this means for them. To avoid any misunderstandings that may lead to disputes, have the client or customer sign the new Ts&Cs to acknowledge receipt.
Are Terms and Conditions necessary?
There is no legal requirement for a business to have T&Cs; however, not setting out express terms on how you do business can expose you to costly and resource-draining legal claims. Having well-drafted Terms and Conditions Agreement is also positive for your clients or customers as they’ll know exactly what they are receiving in terms of the goods and services they order from your organisation, delivery methods, and payment terms, warranties, cancellation policies and other important consumer information.
- The personal data you collect
- How that data will be used and where it will be stored
- Who the data is shared with
- How long the data will be kept for
- The data subject’s right to access their personal data
Can I copy another company's Terms and Conditions?
Copying someone else’s Terms and Conditions is a dangerous path to follow. Your business will always be unique, with many variations on how you engage customers as opposed to other firms. Many times, going down this route has been seen as a false economy when getting your T&Cs professionally reviewed or created costs less than you may think.
Protecting your business
Getting your T&Cs right provides certainty for your customers and employees, who can quickly check the document if they receive a customer query regarding payment, delivery, or a cancellation. Below are actions you can take to create a robust Terms and Conditions:
- Decide what Terms and Conditions your business needs so you can trade profitably and ethically
- Talk to a commercial solicitor about the above (they’ll quickly spot any gaps in the terms you want to include)
- Have your solicitor draft your T&C (they’ll ensure all the relevant information is included, the document protects your best interests, and any legal compliance requirements specific to your industry are included)
- Place your T&Cs in a prominent place on your website and include copies in any sales and marketing packs
- Continue to update your T&Cs as your business grows and/or regulations change
Get legal assistance from LawBite
Businesses deal with people and other businesses on a daily basis. This means that your enterprise must deal with other business contracts all the time. Clients, suppliers, employees, investors, landlords, tenants, consultants and partners - you had, have or will have should have valid and enforceable contracts in place.
Getting your terms and conditions / terms of service right is critical in both the online and offline worlds. New regulations are constantly coming out, and keeping up is hard for most business leaders.
If you’re not sure what you should cover and need legal advice, then speak to one of our friendly lawyers who can review your Ts&Cs and help refine them where required. Book a free 15 minute call with one of our friendly lawyers or call us on 020 3808 8314 to get your agreements reviewed and working in your favour.