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Terms and Conditions for businesses and individuals

Terms and conditions are the rules and requirements, usually of a business, that an individual or another business must adhere to prior to using/accepting a product, phone app, service, car insurance comparison website etc.

Generally, a well-run business will have you sign their terms and conditions prior to entering into a contract with them. For example, if you want to use a car insurance comparison website you are almost always asked to tick a box confirming you accept and agree to be bound by that particular company’s terms and conditions prior to being able to use the service and you cannot proceed with your order unless you tick the “I accept the terms and conditions” box.

Individuals are afforded more protection by the law than businesses. The  Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977 (UCTA) and the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 (SI 1999/2083) (UCCR) are the pertinent protective measures. The distinction between the two can be summarised as follows:

  1. UCTA is mainly concerned with attempts to limit liability.
  2. The UTCCRs impose a more general unfairness test on terms in consumer contracts.

As a consumer you are afforded protection by UCTA and UCCR, the best way to ensure you are protected is to read what you are signing. It may be time consuming but if it saves you from entering into a deal with the devil then it might just be worth it.

Unfortunately for businesses the same level of protection afforded to consumers is not afforded to businesses. In business to business transactions you really ought to have a legal team on board before signing up to terms and conditions. Either that or you must have somebody representing the business that knows what they are doing. If you sign up to an agreement that you later wished you had not you could really have your back against the wall.

So what do businesses do about terms and conditions. Firstly if you are any type of business ensure you have well written terms and conditions. We have seen numerous businesses try and prepare their own terms and conditions and fail to cover themselves adequately when the claim needs to be made or the claim against them is being made. This is done because they do not want to spend money on legal costs to have the terms drafted professionally.

There are then those businesses that do have their terms and conditions properly prepared by a solicitor. However, it does not matter how bullet proof your terms and conditions are - if you fail to serve them on the business or consumer with which you are conducting business prior to the formation of the legal contract, those terms and conditions are not worth the paper they are printed on.

Before you conduct any business: serve your terms and conditions on the other party and have them sign it. 

For more advice on not only drafting your terms and conditions but also when to serve them, please contact a member of the litigation team on 0116 212 1000.

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