The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has published its findings from research into businesses’ behaviours regarding unfair terms in contracts with consumers. The research shows that 54% of the UK businesses surveyed do not fully understand the rules on unfair terms, which directly impacts how they treat their customers. In response, the CMA has launched a series of guides to inform businesses on what makes a term unfair.
The guidance assists businesses with understanding what makes terms and notices unfair, what risks they can face from using unfair wording and top tips on how to ensure terms and notices are fair and clear.
There are 3 levels of guidance – short (2 pages), expanded (28 pages) and full (144 pages), so that different users can access what is most appropriate to their needs. It includes an at-a-glance flowchart explaining how to apply the law on unfair contract terms.
The guidance identifies key things that businesses should do to ensure that they communicate clearly with consumers and avoid disputes arising from unfair terms. Alongside specific advice such as avoiding using legal jargon in contracts, the guide urges businesses to deal ‘openly and fairly’ with consumers and not to use terms you ‘would not like to sign up to yourself’.
With the advent of the Insurance Act in August 2016 you need to fully appraise your insurance company of the risk.
They will want to fully understand how you will ensure that this is something that you can undertake and also where you see the exposures i.e. if your advice turns out to be incorrect what could the consequences be?
Even if your current policy coverage is worldwide geographical they may only note it within the UK and would see working in countries particularly outside of the EU as higher risk by virtue of differences in the law, language, penalties etc. Insurers are very nervous when North America is mentioned.
2 Terms and Conditions
It is really important that you have well drafted terms and conditions in place and they refer to the jurisdiction for contractual disputes as being in your home country.
It is also important that your client accepts your terms and conditions and you do not end up working under theirs. If this is the only way they will do business be prepared to walk away.
Clearly if you are trading on ebay as your main channel to market you will have to be sensitive to the policies so as to avoid ebay banning you. However if your terms and conditions are robust and bearing in mind that traders do not enjoy the same rights as consumers you could take the view that your customer is in breach of contract i.e. you have supplied goods which they effectively have not paid for. This seems to be a fundamental breach of the contract terms for which they could be pursued through the County Court with all that entails. Just to reiterate you would need to ensure that this was not in contravention of your agreement with ebay and you would need to ensure that your agreement was enforceable.
Terms and conditions, agreements, contracts, terms of engagement, call them what you will, they are the bedrock of any business. Well crafted documents clarify and explain how the working relationship will operate and manage client expectations.
However it is when things go wrong that these documents really come into their own and come under scrutiny.
If they are not legally compliant and robust enough to protect your business then you are exposing yourself to unnecessary risk and potentially a distress purchase of legal services which are always expensive.
We can provide a no obligation quote for reviewing and amending your current documents or produce a bespoke set from scratch. >Read more…
This is a minefield, essentially you should make sure that you are crystal clear about which territories/countries/areas you are going to do business in. Don’t ‘accept’ a customer order from, or enter into a legally binding contract with, someone outside your catchment area.
You should also specify where you will make deliveries, if applicable, and don’t rely on the fact that your website is in English to restrict the sales.
Your terms and conditions of business should be carefully crafted to comply with legal obligations particularly if you are making sales to consumers. Beware the proposed EU rules on geographical discrimination in terms of pricing.
If the buyer is in the EU then you will need to comply with EU consumer legislation with respect to returns etc, however as this is harmonised across the EU as long as you comply with UK law you should be OK.
You may wish to ask us to review and amend your terms and conditions to ensure they are current >read more…