How to apply terms and conditions
Why do I need to apply terms and conditions?
Having a properly written set of terms and conditions is important for establishing the terms of trade credit which you offer, or to regulate any other aspects of your business. Effective Ts & Cs can help prevent late payment and provide a means of resolving disputes which arise during the course of business. However, no matter how professional the terms may be, if they are not correctly applied they will be next to useless. If your customers, suppliers or business partners were not aware of your Ts & Cs at the outset of any contract of business relationship, it will be difficult to apply them retrospectively, which is why it’s crucial to set out and follow a process.
How can I apply terms and conditions to other businesses?
If you are dealing with another business, you should always ensure that your terms are accepted as part of a signed agreement or contract. Businesses are deemed to be capable of dealing with more complex Ts & Cs than consumers, so this gives you a chance to set out exactly what you expect from the contract, but doing so in advance of any agreement is crucial. The other business may well want to change some of the terms or apply their own, in which case you will need to reach a consensus on one set of Ts and Cs before going forward.
How can I apply terms and conditions to consumers?
If you are dealing with consumers, applying Ts and Cs is more tricky. There are various implied terms - also known as statutory rights - which are applied to consumer contracts by the Sale of Goods Act and the Supply of Goods and Services Act. These cannot be overridden by your own business terms, unless they are more favourable. Furthermore, there are additional statutory rights if a consumer buys from you online, including a “cooling off period” during which they can decide to cancel the contract. When it comes to applying other terms not covered by consumer law, you must always make sure these are made very clear before the contract is formed, particularly if they could be considered onerous. If selling online, you should not only provide a link to terms and conditions but go further and ask the buyer to take some action (such as clicking on an “accept” button) in order to apply the terms.
Debtor protection legislation
Before taking any step seeking payment from a business or consumer debtor, you will need to check whether the Debt Respite Scheme (Breathing Space Moratorium and Mental Health Crisis Moratorium) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020 apply to prohibit that step.
A variety of documents which may help with applying terms and conditions can be downloaded from our Business Documents Folder.