As the kids (and us!) head back to school after the summer, it seems an appropriate time for businesses to run a ‘legal health check’ of key matters to ensure everything is in place before diving into autumn and a busy Q4. Contracts are one of the key elements of any successful business whether for clients or on the supplier side and for maximum peace of mind professional business legal advice is essential for creating and revisiting these contracts.
So why now?
Most businesses tend to get busier and take on new deals or projects on the run-up to Christmas. It makes more sense to conduct a review now before these bigger projects kick off and consume greater resource. And we also have Brexit looming in March 2019, which will undoubtedly require time and energy from businesses, whether or not a transitional period is negotiated between the UK and the EU. Our recent blog post 5 Things to Get Your Business Ready for Q4 covers the main general business issues which you should have in mind for year-end.
There is unlikely to be time for ‘tidying up’ within the next six months at least, and you never know when you might need contracts and paperwork to be in order. And with the quick growth often experienced with SMEs, it can be easy to forget to keep everything in order, when you don’t necessarily have specific departments responsible for such matters.
The Main Considerations
One area in particular which businesses should be ensuring is in good shape is agreements and terms and conditions with suppliers, trading partners, consultants etc. Your business should be clear on the following things:
Who are your major suppliers, trading partners and consultants?
The most efficient approach can be to have a spreadsheet that details the party’s name, what they are contracted for, ad key contact details. You can include other items on this spreadsheet which might be helpful for you, for instance when a contract is due for renewal, and the notice period for termination
Do all of these relationships have contracts or terms and conditions in place?
If not, send out your standard terms and conditions or get an agreement in place as soon as you can. This helps define each party’s rights and obligations, and lets you know where you stand
In terms of the new data protection rules (GDPR), who are the data processor and the data controller?
Both parties must be clear about their obligations. LawBrief Rachel McKinney has posted a detailed article covering the duties of a data processor in line with GDPR. Remember that the new GDPR rules are much stricter than previous legislation, and fines are the greater of 4% of annual turnover or EUR 20 million. It is imperative that your contracts comply with GDPR, and that you are fully aware of your obligations. We recently took a look at how the ICO are shaping up to enforce data protection breaches.
With Q4 and the lead-up to Christmas being a key time to maximise revenue for the year, it is advisable to take some time now, before everyone gets caught up in the end-of-year rush, to ensure you have all your legal ducks in a row.
From next week, LawBiref Jennifer Cowan will be going into greater detail on the legal elements of firstly client and then supplier contracts.
At LawBite, we can review your contracts, ensure they are compliant with any changes in law that you might not be aware of (including GDPR) and help you get things in order. For further business legal advice, you can contact the author of this article LawBrief, Barbara Jamieson. For expert business legal advice, please enter an enquiry or call us today on 020 7148 1066 to speak to a member of our friendly Client Care Team.