Terms and conditions are boring

Not true.

There you are, doing the job. Then ground conditions are not as expected. The customer says you have delayed the work and cost them money. The supplier says pay me now. Nightmare. Who pays to put it right? What can the supplier do?

Contracts are not made for happy times. They tell you what you can expect to get and give when you have a problem. Wise businesses have terms for their customers and their suppliers. Well organised businesses get their terms to apply to their sales and their purchases. Lawyers call it the battle of the forms.

A quick lesson on when a contract is made. Contracts require both parties to give something and to get something. When you know what the contract is for and the price unless you have got everything else agreed you may well have made a contract. Then it is too late to go back to ask for more.

Most contracts are made by a customer asking for a quote for a job. Then the supplier gives a quote. There is a bit of haggling and then the customer says yes. The contract is made. If you have not got your terms in by then it is too late.

Top tips

  • Put your terms on your website. Clearly.
  • On all your tenders and quotes, specify that you deal on your terms and say where they are. Publish them on the back of hard copies and attach to e-copies
  • If you are buying, make sure your terms are on your order confirmation and refer to them
  • If you are selling and the other party had read this and sends his terms with the confirmation, email back to say that the reference to their terms makes the acceptance a counter offer and that you only deal on your own terms
  • Terms on the backs of invoices are too late and pointless.

Good luck


This article is only a summary of the law in force at the present time and is not exhaustive and does not contain definitive advice. Specialist advice should be sought from a member of the Freeth Cartwright.



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