New and Updated Service Agreement Templates

September 2013

Our portfolio-wide upgrade of service documents continues this month in the Business document folder with comprehensive re-writes of our business-to-consumer service agreement templates and with two new business-to-business service documents.

New Service Agreement with Companion Sub-Contractor Agreement

Many of the standard service contracts offered by Simply-Docs contain provisions allowing the service provider to sub-contract all or part of their obligations.  Until now, however, the documents required to engage a sub-contractor stood apart and did not have terms exactly mirroring those in the service agreement.

New to the Simply-Docs Business portfolio this month are two new documents: a Service Agreement Allowing Sub-Contracting and a General Sub-Contractor Agreement.

The Service Agreement is, like many of our templates, designed to be broadly applicable to a range of different services with some details in the body of the document to be completed and the majority of the specifics left for you to complete in a series of schedules.

The Sub-Contractor Agreement is designed for use alongside the new Service Agreement. The clauses in each are designed to mirror and/or complement each other. In particular, the Sub-Contractor Agreement includes a provision to the effect that it will not come into force until the main contract does and will terminate automatically in the event that the main contract is terminated (subject, of course, to the obligation to make reasonable payment for any work already completed by the sub-contractor).

Although designed to work together, both documents may also be used as stand-alone contracts if required.

Please note that these documents are designed for use in business-to-business situations and that both their terms and terminology may make them unsuitable for use in many business-to-consumer transactions.

Updated Business-to-Consumer Service Agreements

Also this month we are publishing a substantial update to our Business-to-Consumer Service Agreements (in line with our earlier Terms and Conditions updates).  Whilst technically an update, in that these document replace ones which we have offered for many years, these are all-new templates, written from the ground up in terms that have been designed to be as consumer-friendly as possible.

No longer are the contracts couched in heavy business and legal terms. They have not lost any of their legal and business effectiveness, but can now be easily read and interpreted by an average consumer.

The updated Service Agreements are suitable for use with a wide range of services and can thus be applied to most every-day service contracts.

The variants in question include:

1) A standard version offering the most flexible and generic terms.

2) A version which covers services that will result in the creation or production of intellectual property rights. Options within the document enable the service provider to either licence or assign those rights to the customer.

3) A version designed for use in situations where the services will be provided within a larger project, requiring the service provider to work alongside other contractors.

4) A version designed for use in projects that are divided into milestones with payments falling due for the successful completion of each milestone.

Key Legal Points

There are a number of important legal points to be aware of when contracting with consumers. In service contracts, the most important laws to be aware of are:

- The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, prohibiting misleading or aggressive sales practices;

- The Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982, requiring that, among other things, goods and services are provided to consumers with reasonable care and skill;

- The Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977, prohibiting terms that excessively limit or exclude the seller’s liability;

- The Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999, providing further protection for consumers by, for example, ensuring good faith and avoiding significant imbalance in the rights of the parties.

It is important for all service providers to be aware of their obligations and the rights of their customers. The new Business-to-Consumer Service Contract Templates have been written with these laws in mind.

The contents of this Newsletter are for reference purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Independent legal advice should be sought in relation to any specific legal matter.

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