The advent of the Internet has changed the way we shop. In simpler times customers had personal relationships with their grocer and their tailor, and even as recent as 20 years ago most of us went to a travel agent to book holidays or to buy our flights. Now everything is literally a click of a button away. In the UK e-commerce grows at a staggering 18% a year, a trend which is forecast to continue for the foreseeable future.
Who honestly reads the terms and conditions contracts that we so readily agree to when buying our favourite products online? Well, lawyers certainly do, but as anecdotal evidence not many others. In fact it is a habit of the typical online consumer to check the little boxes before clicking buy and not give it any afterthought at all. It would be tempting therefore for many businesses to give the same degree of thought to the terms and conditions contract. However that would be a great mistake.
Terms and conditions are all about protecting your business. You need to cover yourself so that customers and clients have no opportunity to go back on their word. They also serve the wider purpose of making it clear to both parties what their duties, rights and responsibilities are. Well drafted terms and conditions should be prescriptive rather than vague and set out what happens when things go wrong. In this regard they save a lot of time, effort, and money by dealing with issues at the start of the relationship, rather than at court once things have gone wrong.
One size does not fit all
One common mistake practitioners in this field of law see often is the one size fits all approach some businesses take when it comes to drafting their terms and conditions. A general template downloaded from the Internet or worse, the doctored terms of your competitors will never suit your business’s individual needs adequately. In short each case is radically different from the next.
When preparing a terms and conditions contract for a client a lawyer will always have the three following words in mind: liability, liability, and liability! This is because of the highly litigious times in which we live, and even more so when the product or service in question touches on customers’ health and safety. When it comes to considering liability you must always think the unthinkable as well as highly unusual circumstances. It is when dealing with the issue of liability that a lawyer’s expert guidance is needed the most.
If you wish to discuss how a well drafted terms and conditions contract can protect your business then do not hesitate to contact us using the contact form below and we would be happy to guide you.