Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Terms and conditions apply

Companies are being reminded to spell out their terms and conditions on every single order – even when they are dealing with long-time clients.

Andrew Oranjuik, from the commercial team at Martin-Kaye solicitors in Telford, said there could be dangers in becoming comfortable and less formal with established customers.

“No matter how informal your arrangement may be, terms and conditions will only apply if they are confirmed in writing and clear for all to see.

“If you have developed a close working relationship with another company, you may receive orders placed in a variety of ways – and not always in the most traditional of situations.

“Some might be sent by email, others by fax or over the telephone, and some may be given during face-to-face meetings or in more relaxed conversations.

“There’s nothing wrong with this approach, but a recent High Court case has shown that you can’t automatically rely on standard terms and conditions – they need to be included in your agreements for every single deal.

“It’s not enough for them to be printed on the flip-side of a purchase order either. They must be referred to on the front too – and if you’re sending orders by email, you’ll need to attach them as a PDF document.”

Andrew said the message was that, if companies do not make it clear they will be relying on their own standard terms and conditions for each individual order, they cannot be relied on.

“The fact that your companies may have been doing business for years makes absolutely no difference in the eyes of the law,” he said.

“And if the business relationship dates back many years, you may even find that you’ve never actually sent the other company a copy of your standard terms and conditions, so they can’t possibly be expected to know what they are.”