When buying and selling goods, two things you’re going to want are certainty and consistency. One way of achieving this is to have a written set of standard terms and conditions (T&Cs) which will set out the basis on which any transaction will be conducted, and which also reflect the nature of your business. Having these terms in place up front minimises the chances of any (potentially unpleasant) surprises, and makes it more likely that the transaction will run smoothly. Standard T&Cs should reflect the nature of the seller’s business. But because running a business can be a complex thing, it’s perhaps unsurprising that there are many things that T&Cs should cover.
To make things a little easier for you (and because we’re just so nice), we’ve come up with a list of some of the more important ones.
- What is the customer paying for? It isn’t only the price of the goods themselves that may vary depending on the nature and quantity of them; it’s important to include terms clarifying both your and your customer’s obligations regarding related costs, e.g. VAT, delivery, postage and packaging.
- How are the goods to be paid for? When should payment be made, and what happens if payment is late? You should ensure your standard T&Cs contain comprehensive terms regarding payment, and with the obligations of each party laid out clearly.
- Warranties from the seller are an important way of ensuring that the seller meets certain requirements relating to the goods being sold, such as their quality.
- However much care both the buyer and seller put into meeting their respective obligations, things may not always go according to plan. That’s why it’s so important to be clear as to the extent of the liability both buyer and seller are willing to risk if something goes wrong.
- T&Cs are, in effect, a contract laying out the basis on which a transaction is to be carried out. And as with any contract, there should be certainty as to its duration.
- The events in which a contract will be treated as terminated, with both buyer and seller no longer being bound by their obligations, are something which should be clearly laid out.
- As well as setting out the rights of the parties to the transaction, your T&Cs should also clarify the position regarding the rights of parties outside the contract. In other words, the rights of third parties.
- Having a clear and accessible set of T&Cs is crucial to ensuring a transaction runs smoothly. However, there’s always a chance that things could go wrong, resulting in a dispute. So you need to ensure that your T&Cs provide certainty as to dispute resolution, including whether a specific type of dispute resolution should be followed.
- Certainty and consistency are two of the main advantages of having a set of well-drafted and comprehensive T&Cs. However, you may find that, after both you and the buyer have agreed to them, something needs to be amended or even added. You should therefore ensure that your T&Cs clearly set out how they can be varied.