So it isn’t new news that the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling had awarded the no-deal Brexit ferry contract worth £13.8m to a company that not only does not own any ferries but are also a start up business who are yet to fulfill a contract.
Grayling defended the decision after criticism by saying they had looked very carefully at the business and have put in place a tight contract that ensure they can deliver. If these contracts are anything like those on their website, they are in trouble.
The news yesterday was hit with headlines regarding the company and the fact they had clearly copied and pasted their terms. In these terms and conditions they were advising their customers to check goods before
“agreeing to pay for any meal/order” and ‘Delivery charges are calculated per order and based on [delivery details here].’ which reads more like Seaborne Freight is preparing for pizza orders, rather than deliveries of goods across the English Channel or possibly clothing deliveries with terms stating that “It is the responsibility of the customer to ensure delivery address details are correct ……”
“[Business name] reserves the right to remove from our website any material deemed threatening,”
Terms and conditions listed on a company website are an important legal document, just like terms and conditions given to customers in hard copy or sent by email. Whilst this is hilarious, it isn’t isolated, there have been many cases where start-up businesses have opted out of producing their own contracts of business, instead deciding to just copy and paste competitor’s terms and conditions. Sometimes, like in this case, the terms are in no way relevant to the business at all.
From this it is clear that many businesses do not understand the importance of having these terms and conditions on your website and that getting them this wrong not only can make you look like a laughing stock, but it is highly unprofessional, you cannot rely on them and they are illegal. It might not seem like a big deal or that it should even be illegal when “everybody does it.”
It is a violation of copyright law to copy someone else’s work without permission and if you are taking your business seriously you really shouldn’t be breaching any laws.
Terms and conditions of business are a way to regulate how you sell or provide your goods or services. As all businesses strive to offer something different and aim to being the best in their industry, it doesn’t come as a surprise that your terms and conditions should be tailored exactly to how your business operates.
No two businesses are the same, even if they are a competitor.
Spending a bit of money on a professional to draft Terms that are specific to your business now can actually save your company substantial amounts of time, money, and brand damage down the line. They should be properly considered and drafted to cover the immediate needs of the business and also written in a way that would support the growth of your business too.
Since the headlines hit, Seaborne have amended their terms but it is still very generic, with absolutely no flow and they make little sense.
Let’s just say they need our help.
Here are my 5 top reasons why you should get bespoke terms and conditions for your business:
1. If one clause is poorly drafted it could invalidate your entire agreement. This is the business equivalent of thinking you had house insurance, and finding out after your house burned to the ground that, in fact, you had an expired policy. Cutting corners now, and not paying full attention could cost you immensely.
2. Your business is unique, so why have the same Terms as anyone else? Drafting Terms that align with your mission and values in straightforward language is yet another way to distinguish your company in the marketplace to win and retain customers.
3. It could be the difference between winning that huge contract or not. You assume no one reads terms and conditions but if a client is choosing between you or a competitor, it wouldn’t be unusual to compare you both in this way. If you are selling computers but your terms look like you are selling rabbits or they are unfair or unclear. Who is likely to win the contract?
4. The terms you have copied could be out of date and not compliant with the most recent laws and regulations in your industry. Laws change all the time, and by ignoring this you could leave out crucial protections.
5. Even if you are copying a very similar set of terms, you may not understand them yourself completely and they won’t be fully protecting you in the way they should. Also note copyright point above.
Take your business seriously, get all your contracts drafted by a professional and at BEB that is exactly what we can help you with.