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The ABC’s of terms and conditions

Article provided by SchoemanLaw Inc

In business, you engage with your customers or clients in good faith. It is important however, that there are set rules and guidelines that determine how customers or clients engage with your products and services. Terms and conditions (hereinafter “T’s & C’s”) provide such rules and guidelines. They further set out the rights and responsibilities of your customers and your business when engaging in a transaction. T’s & C’s create a legally binding contract between you and your customers or clients.

Having T’s & C’s in place helps improve the customer experience. T’s & C’s put a legal framework in place and shows that you care about your customers and your business. A clear set of T’s & C’s that are applied consistently to all customers can assist you with providing good customer service. This will in return provide them with reassurance as to how you will handle the agreement. This gives your customers peace of mind as they know how transactions with your business are regulated. T’s & C’s helps avoid mismatched expectations. If you spell things out clearly in your T’s & C’s such as delivery and payment, you will have less disgruntled customers and save time on administration.

Written T’s & C’s are easier to enforce in the case of a dispute as you do not struggle to prove the agreement between yourself and your clients or customers. This especially in the case where disputes need to be heard in any court of law. Having written T’s & C’s simply creates certainty. In the case of services or online business, it is important to protect your intellectual property. Your T’s & C’s need to make it clear how your intellectual property is to be used. In the case of goods, it is important to establish when ownership passes as this determines who bears the risk.

It is important to limit your liability in the T’s & C’s. This will require you to list instances where you cannot be held liable. For an example, you can include in your T’s & C’s that you cannot be held liable for late delivery if that late delivery was a result of an act of God or force majeur.

Your T’s & C’s must clearly outline the following basic principles:

  • Details of the business including registration number and your registered address;
  • A clear definition of the services or products provided by your business;
  • Set out your delivery services;
  • What happens should either party fail to perform i.e. fail to pay or to deliver;
  • Liability – who is liable when what happens;
  • Set out when and how payment is to be made;
  • Reservation of ownership;
  • Relevant laws that govern your agreement; and
  • Any other terms of agreements.

It is strongly recommended that you have T’s & C’s in place before engaging with customers. They must be provided to a customer prior to engaging in a transaction. Having these in place will help you avoid unnecessary misunderstandings and importantly protect your business from certain liability.

In December 2017, SchoemanLaw Inc. launched SME Self Service Desk™. T’s & C’s is just one of the documents that have been hand crafted by a team of experts who focus on serving the needs of entrepreneurs, and therefore, the user will enjoy all the benefits of a professionally constructed legal document or agreement without the expensive price tag.

For more information click here.

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