Why should I bother with Terms and Conditions for my business?

It’s fair to say that most consumers would be wrong to claim that they always read the Terms and Conditions before agreeing to use a product or service.

Millions of people across the UK are guilty of failing to read the Terms and Conditions, otherwise known as the boring bits or the small print, and that’s a pretty big deal. But why?

Terms and Conditions act as a legally binding contract between a company and its clients.

The agreement doesn’t only set out the rules and guidelines that must be followed, but it clearly sets out expectations from all sides of the party too.

There can be serious ramifications for companies who trade without Terms and Conditions. This can lead to unwelcomed headaches for customers too.

Within this blog, our spotlight is on some of the top issues Crimson Crab have encountered as a result of companies not having clear Terms and Conditions.

 

  1. Lack of ability to limit liability. As a business, if you don’t bother having Terms and Conditions, there are all sorts of liability that you may have to accept when you don’t need to.

 

  1. Difficulties if your client fails to make payment. Without Terms and Conditions, you may find yourself in a costly situation if court action needs to be made due to a client failing to make a payment on the work you have completed. By ensuring they agree to your payment terms within your Terms and Conditions, you’re protecting yourself from unwanted surprises and difficulties in Court.

 

  1. Unrealistic expectations. Without Terms and Conditions, clients may claim the work you are doing isn’t sufficient and fails to meet their expectations. By drawing up clear and easy-to-understand Terms and Conditions, you’re making it clear what work you will complete for the price agreed.

 

  1. Misunderstanding about compliance with legislation. Many businesses struggle to understand that Terms and Conditions play an important role in ensuring you are complying with the law including for example Trading Standards legislation. Having a set of Terms and Conditions allows companies to publish essential details, such as its name and address or consumer cancellation rights as required.

 

  1. Limited ability to protect intellectual property. This is all about protecting the creations of the mind, like inventions, literacy, and artistic work. Without highlighting in your Terms and Conditions the use to which your client may put your intellectual property, people may steal your ideas which could have otherwise been making you money. Setting out your stance on Intellectual Property will reduce the likelihood of this happening and will make it easier to deal with if it does.

 

There is so much to think about when you are trying to manage your own business, so it’s easy to prioritise another matter over Terms and Conditions.

But by having these you will establish an essential legal binding contract, on your terms as long as they are fair, which can protect you and your clients for years to come.

It’s good practice to regularly review your Terms and Conditions as circumstances can change as can the law, but also how your business operates may change over time.

Whether you are a start-up or an established business, Terms and Conditions are crucially important today more than ever.

At Crimson Crab, we can help with anything related to the Terms and Conditions belonging to your business. From reviewing to drafting your Terms and Conditions, a great starting point is our Business MOT get in touch to take it today.

How are you following the rules and regulations that affect your business?

The rules and regulations your business is required to follow may differ from one industry to the next.We're open

It’s your responsibility to ensure you are following what’s right for your type of business and that your team are copying your good example too.

Certain organisations are regulated differently. For example, financial services providers, investment firms and consumer credit firms alike are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, while care homes and hospitals are monitored by the Care Quality Commission. Food businesses are regulated by the Food Standards Agency and have to be registered with the local authority.

Even though they are three different sectors, they are accountable to a regulatory body that will ensure everything the business does is ethical, responsible and aligned with the law.

So, who are you regulated by and why is this important? Well, it depends. Ultimately, most businesses are regulated by an industry-specific regulator – but other sectors have less regulation.

The industries which aren’t heavily regulated in the UK include cleaning services, plumbing and recruitment.

That doesn’t mean to say that there is a free for all, everyone must follow the various and continually-changing UK rules and regulations set by Parliament, regardless of whether they have an industry-specific regulator or not.

Rules and regulations can be complicated and maybe a challenge to follow, especially if you’re not an expert on this matter.

But there’s a simple way to build on your understanding of how it works – and we call it the Onion Analogy.

There are several layers to rules and regulations and, aligning our explanation to the Onion Analogy, we’re going to uncover three layers.

Layer one of the onion – The regulatory bodies you must follow

These include, but aren’t limited to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and more.

Generally, these bodies give guidance on the area they cover but they also have enforcement powers when it comes to breaches of the law.

Every company – including yours – must follow various authorities if it is to adhere to UK law.

Layer two of the onion – The industry-specific regulatory bodies you are accountable to

Similar to the earlier examples for the financial, health-sector and food sectors, industry-specific regulatory bodies are the organisations that specialise within the area your business works.

Other examples include the Environment Agency (EA), the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), Ofcom, the Gambling Commission and more.

Layer three of the onion – The industry norms. What are others doing which is right? 

The final layer within the Onion Analogy is your industry norms – what are others within your sector doing which is right for your consumers.

It’s impossible for us to give you a definitive answer on whether you are following the rules and regulations for your sector. However, if you’re looking for some expert insight and guidance into whether what you are doing is right or requires improvement, our Business MOT is a great place to start.

Business MOT

Crab Insight March 2021

Red Tape Busters Volume 8, Issue 06, `Regulatory Regimes’

 

Welcome to the March edition of Crab Insight

So the evenings are drawing out and the clocks spring forward soon. Spring is definitely in the air with crocuses and daffodils in bloom.

Despite this, our focus at Crimson Crab HQ is on regulatory regimes, as they affect all businesses to varying degrees.

HR management, data protection and health and safety management can be problematical so please do take a look at some of our solutions:

 
 
 

Claudia Crab’s March Focus

Claudia the Crimson Crab icon

Regulatory Regimes

“Many people who try to do big bold things in the world find out it’s not about the money or the technology: It’s about the regulatory hurdles that will try and stop you.“ – Peter Diamandis, US Businessman founder and chairman of the X Prize Foundation

There are a vast array of regulators in the UK many of whom have varying impacts on business depending on the industry, from the Care Quality Commission and the Law Society to the Charity Commission and Ofqual.

However, there is a significant number such as the Information Commissioners Office (ICO), the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) which are universal. 

The regulators’ purpose is to ensure there is a level playing field and protect the weaker party in any transaction (which is usually the client or customer).

If a regulator has cause to investigate a business, they will try to demonstrate insufficient control over business processes and procedures.

It makes sense to be in a position to show that you have done everything possible to comply and that you carry out checks to make sure that your procedures work.

That way the regulator will be more likely to help resolve compliance failures, rather than take enforcement action which can prove costly for a business and damaging to its reputation.

This follows Crimson Crabs strapline:

Ethical  |  legal  |  Responsible

How are you following all the rules and regulations that affect your business? 

Look out for our social media posts and our blog later in the month as we will hopefully be able to flesh out your thinking.

Top tip – A great starting point is to understand the regulatory regimes that apply to your business and our Business MOT can help


F2 Business Huddle Online

Friday 12 March 2021

12 noon to 2 pm

WE ARE LIMITED TO 100 PLACES

FOUR PLACES ARE LEFT

TO AVOID DISSAPOINTMENT 

Get your ticket on Eventbrite


Reputation Advocates

When you need a reliable and dependable expert click on the crabAccredited Crimson Crab Reputation Advocate Logo


 
Feedback

We love to receive feedback and it really helps us to improve our services for everyone.

Until next month look after your reputation!!

Ethical, legal, responsible trading wave
T:023 9263 7190 | E: enquiries@crimsoncrab.net | W: www.crimsoncrab.co.uk

Copyright (c) 2021 Crimson Crab Ltd, all rights reserved.

Secure your cash flow: Disclose your legal trading entity

Your clients have the legal right to understand exactly who they are dealing with. If they don’t, you could find yourself with agreements being void and not getting paid for the work you do…

Imagine it – business is booming and you have just had one of the strongest quarters to date.

Then suddenly, your customers stop paying and you have no legal way to get your money as a result of not abiding by trading laws and disclosing your legal trading entity.

But what is the legal trading entity?

In a nutshell, it’s the name of the business used for tax purposes. It’s the ‘legal’ name of the person or entity that owns it.

If you’re a sole trader, a plasterer for example, then the legal trading entity of your business is your name with or without your initials or forenames.

So, if your name is Richard James Smith, the legal name for your business could be Richard James Smith, Richard J Smith, Richard Smith R. J. Smith, R Smith or simply Smith.

If you trade under a name which does not include your surname, for example, Phoenix Plastering Services you would have to give your surname to every current or potential client.

For example Smiths Phoenix Plastering Services or Richard Smith trading as Phoenix Plastering Services together with an address at which you can be contacted. In legal parlance an address at which you will accept the service of documents.

For unincorporated partnership in gets a little more complicated as the legal trading name is the last names (with or without initials or forenames) of all of the partners.

For limited liability companies, partnerships and corporations, the business’ legal name is the one that was registered with Companies House including Ltd, LLP, PLC etc. In addition, there are specific disclosure requirements for these types of business including full corporate name, registered office address, registered number and place of registration.

The trade or business name is the name a company uses for advertising and sales purposes. It’s imperative you understand that this is different from the legal trading names previously described.

It’s a legal requirement that your legal trading entity is included on all business documents and their electronic equivalents which include invoices, letters, emails and websites.

If you’re a business that may trade under a different name to your legal trading entity and may be unsure of the rules, get in touch with the Crimson Crab team today.

Know your customers cancellation rights – they’re a pretty big deal!

Failure to inform your retail customers of their rights to cancel the use of your product or service may have serious ramifications to your business.

Without clarity on cancellation rights, it can become more of a challenge to resolve any disputes which may arise, so it’s important for any business owner (and their team) to clearly set out their company’s approach to cancellations.

In this month’s blog, our focus is on two core areas regarding cancellation rights for consumers. Selling without face to face contact and selling away from your usual trade premises.

If you don’t understand what the law means to your business it may well jeopardise your reputation.

The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013

Its name is quite a mouthful but it’s important for any business that deals with consumers to understand how the rules on cancellations work.

A consumer is someone who is buying something for their own use which, means that they are not buying it for their business, or profession.

The law states if a consumer goes to a shop to purchase goods or services, they have no right to cancel a purchase UNLESS they are given rights to do so by the sales contract or any agreement in place. This is often referred to as a Returns Policy. This does not apply where goods are faulty or misdescribed or a service is not provided to a reasonably competent standard.

Cancellation rights apply when a consumer buys something online or through a catalogue or away from the trader’s usual premises, so for example in their home or at a craft fair.

Whether you’re a tradesman providing a service, or an independent business selling telecoms contracts, it’s essential you inform your customers of their rights to cancel when they have one.

By doing this you are making it clear that they can cancel – within the set down 14-day time period – and move on to elsewhere, hassle-free.

It’s worth noting when someone buys something online (the purchaser) they get 14 days to cancel as long as you tell them about their cancellation rights.

If you as the trader fail to tell them and explain how they can be exercised, the purchaser has up to one year to cancel and you have to refund the purchase price, cost of delivery and pay for the return costs in full.

Cancellation must be distinguished from Termination of a contract. This has a very specific legal meaning.

Termination is where someone has breached the conditions of the agreed contract. It’s a get-out clause for either party who have failed to adhere to what was agreed.

It is a criminal offence not to tell a consumer they have cancellation rights if they are completing agreements off-trade premises.

Be sure to tell your clients about their cancellation rights – even more, so where failing to inform them could cost your company money!

To summarise, every business must understand the rights their customers have to cancel and should always clearly share these before any transaction takes place.

For further information about cancellation rights please get in touch.  

Copyright

To put the record straight copyright is an automatic right. Therefore when you produce a creative work you own the copyright in it There are a few exceptions so for example if you have a contract of employment, the contract will generally state that when you are employed the employer owns the copyright of material you produce at work

Copying or adapting someone else’s work is a ‘restricted act’. An adaptation is a ‘derived work’. If someone adapts your work, you still own it. There is no acceptable percentage of changes.

You have every right to object if they publish such a work when you have not given them your permission to do so. You are also entitled to reclaim any money they make from selling your work. They could seek your permission to use the work as the rights owner, however, you will be able to charge a fee and/or royalties for this.

Read more about copyright. If you would like more detailed information about copyright please ask for our Copyright White Paper.

Respond to regulatory regimes

The regulators’ purpose is to ensure there is a level playing field and protect the weaker party in any transaction (which is usually the client/customer).

If a regulator has cause to investigate a business, they will try to demonstrate insufficient control over business processes.

It makes sense to be in a position to show that you have done everything possible to comply and that you carry out checks to make sure that your procedures work.

That way the regulator will be more likely to help resolve compliance failures, rather than take enforcement action which can prove costly for a business.

Trading Disclosure and Business Names

Your clients have a legal right to know who they are dealing with (i.e the legal entity that they are trading with).

If you use a name to trade under other than that of the legal entity, then you need to disclose the full details of the legal entity including an address where you will accept service of documents.

For corporate bodies, there are specific disclosure requirements.

All of this needs to go on business documents including letters and emails and websites amongst other things.

Legal Entity

An association, corporation, partnership, proprietorship, trust, or individual that has legal standing in the eyes of law. A legal entity has the legal capacity to enter into agreements or contracts, assume obligations, incur and pay debts, sue and be sued in its own right, and to be held responsible for its actions.

Business Names

There are specific requirements relating to the name a business wishes to trade under and rules to prevent the use of misleading names. Business names must not:

  • be the same as an existing trademark
  • include ‘limited’, ‘Ltd’, ‘limited liability partnership, ‘LLP’, ‘public limited company’ or ‘plc’
  • contain a ‘sensitive’ word or expression unless you get permission

There are requirements about the details business have to disclose to their customers:

  • An individual trading under a name which is not their surname, with or without initials, has to give their name and an address at which the service of documents will be accepted;
  • Partnerships that use a name other than the surnames, with or without initials, of the individual partners, have to give the names of all the partners and an address at which the service of documents will be accepted; and
  • Incorporated bodies such as limited liability companies or partnerships (Ltd and LLP) have to make Trading Disclosures.

What are Trading Disclosures?

This is the term used in the Companies Act 2006 to cover the rules about the information companies must provide.

The Companies (Trading Disclosures) Regulations 2008

These Regulations deal with trading disclosures to be made by companies registered in any part of the United Kingdom.

The disclosures have to be made at certain locations (the registered office and other places of business), in company documentation e.g. letters (including electronic equivalents e.g. emails) and on company websites.

The Regulations also require companies to respond to enquiries about where their company records are kept available for inspection.

What do I need in my business letterheads?

From a compliance perspective your clients are entitled to know the details of the legal entity that they are dealing with, especially if a business or trading name is being used. If the legal trading entity is a registered body there are some very specific disclosure requirements.

The information must appear in business letters and electronic equivalents including emails. To give you peace of mind we can check out your letterheads for compliance read more…

The fit and proper persons test for charity managers

HMRC has updated its model declaration and help sheet on the fit and proper persons test for individuals who manage charities, etc entitled to UK charity tax reliefs. which is concerned with ensuring that charities are not managed or controlled by individuals who present a risk to the charity’s tax position. The guidance now includes a detailed description of the circumstances in which a charity manager who has used or been involved in the design or promotion of tax avoidance schemes may be deemed not to be fit and proper person.