Using a lawyer for terms and conditions

Terms and conditions are the terms of the contract between a business and its customers. For example, we have terms and conditions for the contract created when we pass clients such as you to our network of law firms. They are also referred to as ‘terms of trade’. You should have terms and conditions for:

  • Customers’ purchases of your goods
  • Your purchase from suppliers (governed by their terms and conditions)
  • Website terms and conditions

Whether you need a contract drawn up and/or terms and conditions for your standard contract or website, you should seek the assistance of a company and commercial lawyer.

What is the importance of terms and conditions?

Terms and conditions of contracts are carefully drafted by these professionals to ensure that the original intent of the contracting parties is reflected in the contract, and that no alternative meaning could reasonably be attached to those terms and conditions.

Lawyers are crucial to this process because the process of drafting a legally binding contract is significantly different from any other form of writing and can have significant consequences.

Terms and conditions are important, as they should cover, as a minimum:

  • Costs
  • Payment terms
  • Credit limits and credit periods
  • Interest on late payments
  • Delivery arrangements, if relevant

Experienced terms and conditions solicitors can prepare terms and conditions relevant to your business. It is important to carefully customise terms and conditions to suit the needs of your business, rather than merely copy from another business.

Terms and conditions are designed to provide you with security and a legal foundation to protect your rights in dealing with customers. If disputes or problems arise, these will be readily solved if the customer can make reference to clearly written terms and conditions. Solicitors can set up corresponding processes for pursuing debt and resolving disputes surrounding the terms and conditions.

Are terms and conditions legally binding?

In legal drafting, lawyers must reflect the precise wishes of their clients in legally binding text. In order to do this each section of the contract must comply with legal requirements relating to:

  • Reasonability
  • Clarity

An example of a term which for years was seen to be legally binding, and now has had doubt put upon it, is the fee personal account holders are charged when they pass their overdraft limit.

This is because of the principle in English law that a penalty clause is not legally enforceable, but that a clause which states that one party is responsible for the loss of the other party in a certain event is binding. Therefore the question that must be asked is whether or not the overdraft charge that banks automatically impose is a reasonable attempt to recover costs.

If you are involved in business and require an expert to draft a contract and/or terms and conditions, lawyers who specialise in company and commercial law are able to help. It is best if you seek advice from a lawyer who has experience with contracts and terms and conditions in your particular industry.

For more specific information on websites, see our information page on website compliance.

Do you need a specialist lawyer to draft terms and conditions for your business? Are you in dispute over some terms and conditions you have signed? Caven can put you in touch with a specialist company and commercial solicitor who deals with drafting terms and conditions, and/or disputes. Please call us on [number] or complete the web-form above.