New Year’s resolutions can often turn out to be well meant but short lived, and good intentions can get lost in the hustle and bustle of daily life.
But the start of the new year does provide an ideal opportunity to evaluate the health and wellbeing of their business says Mark Alexander, Vincents Solicitors head of commercial.
One important document which should be updated and reviewed regularly are the businesses terms and conditions. All too often these documents are created and then filed away for reference, only to see the light of day again once something has gone wrong and when someone – usually a lawyer – asks to see a copy.
The Ts and Cs are usually drawn up as one of the many pieces of formal documentation when the business is created. These important few paragraphs outline the legal basis on which transactions will be undertaken with customers, whether that is the provision of products or services, the timescales and costs, confirmation of any legal requirements and, crucially, what happens if there is a dispute. Ideally they should be provided to all customers as part of the transaction process with a contract or quote, promoted on the premises and, where possible, on the company website.
Failure to make customers familiar with the document can allow them to argue they were unaware of the Ts and Cs if the dispute were to end up in court, so it’s worth reviewing if they are being used correctly in the first place.
These documents can also very quickly become out-of-date as statute changes, in particular consumer law, happen so frequently, so if you’ve not looked over them recently they’re likely to need updating. Or it could be the business itself which has changed, for example if expanding from just commercial clients to include the general public, or moving from referrals to direct or on-line sales.
As the risk of a dispute could see businesses seriously out of pocket, it is worth digging them out this January.