Business Law

New Year, make it clear! Update your Terms & Conditions

B2B Editor10 February 2015

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2015 has well and truly arrived. Hopefully the holiday period gave you the opportunity to regroup and recharge before another busy year. Now is the perfect time to refresh your business, by paying some much deserved attention to your Terms and Conditions.

Your Terms and Conditions form the contract between your business and your customers; they lay down what your customers can expect from you whilst setting the limits of your obligations. It is an ever evolving document that should grow and develop with your business. The best Terms and Conditions are those that reflect and rapidly respond to any changes in the commercial landscape. Keeping them current is key to maximising the efficiency and profits of your business.

In the spirit of David Letterman, here are the top 10 reasons why your Terms and Conditions need an update:

10. They are written in complex legalese, and rattle on for pages on end (the most effective Terms and Conditions are clear, concise, and simply-stated);

9. They refer to legislation that has been repealed, amended, or superseded (e.g. the Trade Practices Act);

8. Customers become confused by the document and are slow to sign;

7. They don’t have a clause concerning IP rights (where relevant);

6. The same provisions keep getting raised in negotiations (and disputes) with customers;

5. You got them from a competitor, or off the internet;

4. They are set out as one big and undifferentiated block of words (careful formatting can be very useful in guiding the eye and breaking up the document, making it infinitely more accessible);

3. They include something called a ‘romalpa’ or ‘retention of title’ clause but you have never heard of the PPSA or a PMSI;

2. You have never read them yourself; and

1. The number one reason you should review your Terms & Conditions: You don’t even have any.

If any of the above applies to you or your business, perhaps it is time for you to consider a revamp of your Terms and Conditions the benefits are manifold. Having precise provisions on payment or credit terms will make it easier to get paid. The more clearly the Terms and Conditions demarcate the rights and obligations of the business and the customer, the easier it will be to avoid disputes with your customers. Perhaps most importantly, well-crafted Terms and Conditions will protect your business from potentially costly liability, allowing you to focus instead on making it a very successful and profitable 2015.