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Terms and Conditions – Do I really need them?

cardillo commercial lawyers top 5 guide start up small business terms and conditions
Whether you’re thinking of starting a business, you’re in the start-up phase, scaling and growing your business or even well established, a good set of terms and conditions will help you go far. 
 
Not to be underestimated, terms and conditions can set the tone for your business and will help many areas of your business run smoothly and efficiently. 
 
We’ve set out our top 5 “must-haves” for your terms and conditions. You can use our handy guide below as a refresher and a checklist for your current terms or if you don’t currently have any terms and conditions, you’ll be able to get an idea of how they can help improve your business. While it can be tempting to DIY your terms and conditions or take inspiration from another business, there are many legal aspects to get right and so it is best to have a lawyer review them before you start using them with your clients.
 
Whilst we’ve set out our top 5 key must have clauses, there are many other useful clauses to have in your terms and conditions. If you feel that it’s time to update your terms and conditions or get some in place, get in touch to see how we can help. We understand the decision to make the financial investment to upgrade your legals can be daunting so that’s why we offer fixed price services so you know exactly how much you need to budget for.
 

1. “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.”The Godfather

Not only should your terms and conditions clearly set out what you will provide whether its specific goods or the exact services you will provide, your prospective clients actually need to know what your terms and conditions are before you start work. One of the biggest traps for businesses is thinking that their terms and conditions will apply to the arrangement and then finding out the client says they never knew about them or even worse, the client was never given a copy of the terms and conditions! The best way to ensure that your terms and conditions are properly accepted by your client is to provide a copy before you start doing the work or shipping off their goods and making sure that there is an acknowledgment that they agree to your terms and conditions by accepting your services or products. 
 

2. “Show me the money!”Jerry Maguire

It’s fair to say that getting paid by your clients is a pretty important part of business. This should be one of the first terms that you set out. Be clear about when you want to be paid, how you want to be paid and what happens if you don’t get paid on time. It might seem like a simple first step but many businesses assume that their clients know how and when they want to be paid. And, if you’re not clear on your payment terms, you will likely spend more time and money chasing payment or clients disputing the payments terms for being unclear. 
 

3. “To be, or not to be, that, is the question.”Hamlet

There’s no need to have Hamlet levels of personal crisis to figure out whether or not your clients are a “consumer” under the Australian Consumer Law. If you are dealing with a “consumer” transaction, the Australian Consumer Law includes certain warranties (or promises) that a business provides to its customers by default. If there is a breach of a promise, then the Australian Consumer Law also sets out how they are to be fixed. You can’t contract out of the Australian Consumer Law so not only should you make sure you have a good understanding of what’s required of you, knowing your rights and responsibilities will help you cut down on customer service issues. Also, a clear returns and refunds policy in line with the Australian Consumer Law will help streamline your customer service and reduce the time spent dealing with client complaints and reduce the likelihood of returns and requests for refunds. 
 

4. “Houston, we have a problem.”Apollo 13

We don’t want to start our agreements with the worst in mind but clearly setting out what happens if your client doesn’t comply with their end of the deal will minimise unnecessary costs if the relationship breaks down. Be clear about how any problems are to be fixed and the timeframes for completing them. For example, some breaches may be able to be fixed within a reasonable time while other serious breaches may need an immediate termination.  
 

5. “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.”Forrest Gump

 While some things are nice to be surprised with, chocolates, flowers and holidays, no business owner wants to be surprised with a huge damages bill if there is a faulty product or service/ There is some liability you can’t contract out off, such as personal injury and death, but you can include specific terms to make sure you’re not responsible for other types of economic of financial loss. 
 
So if you’ve completed a quick refresher of your terms and think they could use some updating or if you’re starting up and need to start from the beginning, get in touch with our founder and principal lawyer, Emilia Cardillo at emilia@cardillolaw.com.au.
 
Disclaimer: in typical lawyer fashion, we couldn’t forget a disclaimer. This blog post is not intended to be legal advice and is an information guide only. We recommend you obtain legal advice before implementing any of the tips outlined in this post. 

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