Do It Yourself terms – Six top tips to watch out for.

We’re all aware that bespoke terms can be expensive. Lots of new start up businesses do it themselves. It’s absolutely fine to do it yourself, there’s just six points you need to be aware of.

Doing a “Blue Peter”, cutting and pasting a paragraph from here, a paragraph from there may work. But here are my top six tips to ensure that the paragraphs you’re using are right for your business.

Tip 1 – Is it the same Product or Service?

The first one, make sure the product or service you’re copying the terms from is offering the same product or service that you are. This includes:

  • the commitments that they’re making about that product or that service;
  • what liability they’re offering for that product or that service;
  • what refund they’re offering for that product or that service.
  • Have a think about what you’re offering. Is there anything that you’re giving that they’re not, or is there anything that they’re offering that you’re not?
    • If it’s yes to either of those, then think very carefully before you include that paragraph. Or you may need to reword the paragraph.
    • Make sure it’s suitable for your product or service.

Tip 2 – Insurances

If it mentions insurance, is that insurance in line with your insurance?

Does it have the same liability?

Does it offer the same security?

Is the paragraph you’re looking at copying offering the right insurance that you’ve got?

It may sound fundamental to check this, but it’s very easy just to copy and paste and actually find that it’s not what you’re being covered for by your insurance. Make sure you check out this fact.

Tip 3 – Payment Terms

If you’re copying payment terms, the payment terms you’re copying are they the same that you’re going to be using on the invoice?

If, within the payment terms section, there’s a comment about placing people on stop will you actually be doing that?

If it mentions removing products or services, are you actually prepared to do that?

Some people talk about passing on debt without further acknowledgement once it becomes overdue. Is that something you will be doing?

You need to make sure that the payments you’re copying fit with your ethics for your business. Make sure it’s consistent, from your terms and conditions down to your invoice.

Always make sure that in the payments section, if it’s business to business and you’re based in England, you quote the Late Payment of Commercial Debt Interest Act (1998) as amended. By doing this, it will allow you to charge the interest rate as specified in the Act.

Note: If you specify an interest rate that is higher than the interest rate that is in the Act, the court may decide that your interest rate is invalid, and reduce it to the interest rate that is in the Act. If your interest rate is lower than the one that’s in the Act, the court may decide to increase the interest you’re charging because it could be felt that you’re undercharging it.

Advice: So don’t give yourself the added complication of figuring out what interest rate is right. Put in there the Late Payment of Commercial Debt Interest Act (1998) as amended.

Tip 4 – Transportation and Breakages

At what point do you keep liability, and at what point do you pass it to your customer?

Whose insurance is it if something breaks in transport?

Who refunds anything broken in transport?

If you automatically add anything up to, say 10% on to allow for breakages in margins, who pays for that?

If you’re going to have transportation and breakages in your terms, make sure the one that you’re copying from is in line with your cover, with your thoughts, and with your ideas for your business.

Tip 5 – Leglislation

The other thing to think about is the age and any relevant legislation of the paragraphs you’re copying.

You need to consider:

  • When were those paragraphs written?
  • Why were they written?
  • Are they still relevant today?
  • The legislation that’s quoted, is that still the most current and up to date one? Or has it been superseded?
  • Is it British legislation, or European legislation?

Tip 6 – Understanding your terms

This is your contract; this is your legally binding document with your customer. Make sure you understand what you’re sending out. Make sure it fits with your company, fits with your core values, fits with your efforts, fits with your ethics.

  • If it’s quoting legislation, do you understand the law that it’s quoting?
  • The same also goes for any terminology used within the contracts and paragraphs you’re copying.

It’s all right to copy and paste paragraphs from other people’s contracts, providing you know exactly what you’re sending out.

Summary:

Make sure that when you are copying terms that you fully understand everything you are asking your customer to agree to, that it is relevant to your business and it covers you for everything you need to be covered for.

Bespoke contracts may not be as expensive as you think. Bespoke contracts don’t have to be complicated. If you’re copying and pasting a contract, unless you’re doing something like recruitment or speaking, there really is no need for your contract to be more than two pages long. Anything over two pages long and people don’t normally bother to read it. If it’s not written in plain English and it’s written in technical speak, the courts could throw it out, because it’s judged on whether Joe Public could understand it. Make sure you fully understand what you’re sending out.

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1 Comment

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