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Rethinking your business Rethinking your contracts

Rethinking your business

Rethinking your business

Rethinking your contracts

Let’s face it: not everyone finds thinking about their terms of business that interesting.  Yes, they are important (at least in a sort of theoretical way), but certainly not that interesting.  Because they are not seen as very interesting, maybe they are less likely to get the attention they really deserve.   Other things like new projects, new campaigns and strategies get to take priority.

But what if we looked at standard terms in a different way? 
What if we saw them not just as small print, but actually at the centre of what we do?

They are in fact your offer to the world.  They set out what you will do, and the basis on which you will do it.  If you need your customer or client to do things too, then they should also deal with that.  Getting it right is therefore important.  You don’t want to be promising to do something you cannot do, or don’t really want to do.  So, thinking about your terms of business is not just about “getting the legal bits right”, as if this was some exercise set apart from everything else.  It ought to be an opportunity to rethink what your business is about, what it is going to do and how it is going to operate.  Compliance with statutory requirements and provisions of various kinds – for example those which apply when dealing with consumers – is only part of it.

Lots of businesses of course have standard terms, but many of them go for years without reviewing them.  It becomes a case of fingers crossed that they are still okay.  Worse, some smaller businesses, may have simply “borrowed” terms they have found elsewhere years ago – the terms some other business has used perhaps.  They did a cut and paste, without really thinking about whether those terms really fit the way the business works.

I am currently working with a client who is buying a business.  The business looks to have done just that.  It has been operating for some years.  But very little thought has gone into the way it operates, or on what its terms of business should say.  For my client that’s a risk.  When he has acquired the business, this is one of the first things he will have to look at, if he is to put it on a firm foundation.

But of course, it is not just about standard terms.  In most contracts there will be specific things to think about too – the particular set of goods you are going to supply for example, the works you are going to carry out, or the services you are going to provide for a particular customer or client.  These will need to be set out too.  But they will usually build on the standard terms and, of course, it is also about your business processes.  There will be no point having well thought out terms, if you are not incorporating them into your contracts.  Businesses need to be clear how they are going to do this.  But the first step is always to be clear about what you are offering, and making sure the terms reflect that.

If your business needs advice and support, please contact Adrian Chaffey, a specialist Corporate Lawyer in the team at Kerseys Solicitors in Ipswich on 01473213311 or Kerseys Solicitors in Colchester on 01206584584 or email us at [email protected], alternatively you can visit our web site and click “Call Me Back” and a member of our Commercial team will be happy to contact you.

Useful links

Contracts: 5 things to think about Part 1 – Kerseys Solicitors

Contracts: 5 things to think about (Part 2 of 2) – Kerseys Solicitors

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