The added value of general terms and conditions
As a business owner or manager, you enter into contracts more or less on a daily basis. These generally contain only a small number of terms relating specifically to the transaction in hand. Unfortunately, many managers are unaware of just how important it is, when entering into a business deal, to clearly define each other’s mutual rights and obligations. There are of course a wealth of statutory provisions, but contractual parties are often free to deviate from these. Plus there are all sorts of things for which the law does not cater: for instance, sellers have no automatic right of lien (i.e. the right to regain possession of unpaid goods), nor is their liability restricted.
General terms and conditions help prevent conflicts and afford security to you and your customers. They instantly alert your customers to the terms under which you supply or buy goods and services.
Every company includes its own specific clauses in its general terms and conditions. For this reason, general terms and conditions are never drafted as ‘one size fits all’. Moreover, certain terms may be unreasonably onerous and become ineffective as a result. So it is important to make sure that your general terms and conditions are carefully drafted.
You can save yourself a lot of time by clearly stating that all your contracts are governed by your general terms and conditions. This removes the need for renegotiating aspects like guarantee or payment terms every time you sign a contract. Another important point to bear in mind is that, in order to successfully invoke your general terms and conditions, you first need to ensure that your contractual partner has accepted them. In addition to ensuring that your customers accept your terms and conditions, you also need to give them a reasonable opportunity in which to actually read them before the contract is signed. If your customers don’t have enough time to read your terms and conditions, they may be able to annul certain provisions in them.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you’re unsure about whether your contractual partner has indeed accepted your general terms and conditions, whether you have presented your general terms and conditions in the correct manner, or if you have any other queries.