Terms Conditions

Small businesses, donations and working with charities.

In our experience, a lot of small business owners are very aware of social responsibilities and many have started businesses based upon a principle or an ethos.

It would seem that small businesses are the perfect target for a charity or ethical organisation that requires donations. It appears logical, that a principled small business owner would be very keen to have a transparent and open link with a charity, especially a charity that reflects their values and is compatible with their approach to business. As a small business making smaller more frequent donations works for us as opposed to large one off donations.

So with that in mind; here are two suggestions or challenges, that if overcome, would help us integrate a charity into my business.

The first issue is highlighting the destination of the donation and the positive impact it may have?
There is a certain cynicism with regards to how much of the donation goes to the cause itself, perhaps the charity can tackle that issue by providing a statement or a certificate with every donation, outlining where the money is going and what percentage will impact the grassroots, or make a difference?

The second issue is access to a branded dedicated link (continuously live) to make it easy for our clients and us to make a donation. For example, some of our services like ‘updating a contract’, may require minor tweaks and we may avoid charging our clients for the work, however attaching a value to the work is useful and may be an opportunity to integrate a charitable donation option into our service. Its means we complete minor work for a fixed value which results in a donation instead of a direct payment or not charging any fee.

The charities we’ve spoken with are not structured to provide a simple payment mechanism for us to use. You would think with all the technology out there that making a charitable donation that’s transparent, open and ethically acceptable would be a simple task.

Hope you find our thoughts on this subject of interest.

End

If I can understand then I am more likely to adhere.

Whilst ignorance is not a defence, ignorance can cause confusions which often leads to problems or disputes. Understandably when you are running a small business, avoiding these types of situations is beneficial.

Ignorance of the law as we know is no defence and can often lead to problems and costly legal battles. In short, ignorance is bad for business – which is why having a well drafted contract written in an accessible style can be a small business best friend.  That awareness is a key skill to obtain when building a business.

A contract written in a style that is readable and understandable is good for your clients, as well as the business. Legalese speak can often confuse clients or customers, and this confusion can lead to a breakdown in communication, non-payment and disputes.  Especially for small businesses, this can lead to serious problems.

Small businesses need to have clarity and transparency, which can be shown through a well drafted contracts that protects both the business and the customer. By taking the time to have this drafted you are helping to sustain your business, by giving your clients trust in you. An understandable contract will go a long way for a client, and often encourage them to use you again. They know the terms of the agreement they are entering into, and know what is expected of both parties. If they can understand the contract then it encourages them to adhere.

Whilst ignorance from clients will, on the most part, be genuine, some may use it to their advantage. An ambiguous contract gives clients the excuse to act in a negative way, as they cannot understand it. They can use this misunderstanding to avoid their contractual responsibilities.

Understandably, small business can often believe that they don’t need a contract, or they are too busy to have one done. A contract won’t always stop disputes happening, but a well drafted set of terms and conditions will help to prevent them. It allows the business owner to manage risks better if the clients understand the contract.

A change in the law leads to new liability for Design and Planners.

Changes to the Construction (Design and Management) regulations 2015, means that those companies (including sole traders), that offer design and planning services to both consumer (householders) and businesses could be liable for health and safety breaches on site even though the builder is the one doing the work.

Not unlike the smoking ban the liability is on those with a lot to lose, the law in that instance targets the smoker through the publican for having a person smoking on the premises, this act pushes the owner to act.  Laws are anthropological, they drive behaviour, whether you agree or disagree with them, it still means the law needs to be adhered to and in the example of the design and planner navigated so their risk is managed and the business protected.

When laws are structured like so, I can’t help but feel more than a little sympathy for the – in this instance – the design and planner who now starts the process of introducing a standard to the chain for events that will lead to a building being built.

We can see why the changes are in place, trying to raise the standard is the goal, the final property will be eligible for warranty and will be re-saleable, a marketable property as opposed to that of a property built based on poor standards which could lead to a disastrous set of circumstances.

This sector is already full of regulation but this new health and Safety legislation will introduce more complexity and challenges for all involved.

So, in a situation where there are multiple contractors, there will be a pressure on design and planning companies to establish the process before a shovel is in the ground.

Create Ts and Cs draft contracts that are relevant to both your business and your industry or sector.  Call us for a quote today 0141 5856384.

Credibility through good contracts – bespoke V DIY

Would you buy from a business that has clearly cut and pasted their contracts? Something that doesn’t have the buyers’ rights included and bias towards the business?

With buyers becoming more aware of their rights, they now understand a contract and what it means in relation to them. If they don’t see a contract that shows commitment to them, or their rights being reflected then they are less likely to do business. A set of bullet points or a basic contract that has no real protection or does not manage risk for the customer won’t attract custom.

A contract that is well drafted and legally enforceable will help to attract custom and differentiate a business from its competitors. Any business that has ambitions to build up a client base should consider having a bespoke contract rather than a self-drafted or DIY set of terms and conditions.

Yes, you’re contract should reflect the business operation and sales processes, be in line with the law and manage your liability. But a contract also serves as a communication to your clients. And because of this it is important to consider what a client thinks and feels about your business. If a client feels that they are being looked after then they will return.

A good contract will help to attract the right kind of client base – one that shows loyalty to a business. If a business shows through their contract that they are adhering to the law and go out of their way to protect their clients rights, this will encourage quality clients – who will pay their bills on time, and show loyalty.

If you’re contract is written in legalese and doesn’t make sense to your clients then it may be difficult for them to adhere to your terms and conditions. A bespoke contract, that is drafted specifically for your business should be written in accessible style.

Whether your business is traditional, online, or app based it is important to have a contract that reflects the quality of your business. A DIY or self-drafted contract can on many occasions could be a barrier to sale. A clear well drafted contract will encourage clients with its accessibility, care towards the client and efforts to protect both parties, is more likely to encourage the type of clients you want to have. As a business, can you afford to get this wrong and risk losing sales?

 

Bespoke vs DIY

 

Ts and Cs can help protect against screen scraping

Ts and Cs can help protect against screen scraping

 

When you see the word screen scraping, you would imagine it to mean de-icing the car on a winter morning.  But actually screen scraping is the process of automatically copying data from a website.

Screen scraping is a controversial topic – some call it theft whilst others call it gathering information. Essentially scrapers will target their competitor’s website, taking information from it that they can use to their advantage. Information such as bookmakers odds, currency exchange rates, online grocery shopping prices or retail sale prices are all known to be copied by scrapers, and the information is then used by competitors. Time sensitive information is most likely to be scraped. Competitors use the data to beat prices and often draw customers away from their competitor.

With the rise in price comparison websites, there has been a rise in screen scraping. With prices changing constantly and businesses fighting to give their clients the best deal, scraping has become a real issue.

Whilst it is good to know what the competition is doing, scraping can be seen in a bad light. It is important to get a balance between letting your clients know your price, and keeping it away from the competitor.

The internet is full of blogs that discuss whether scraping is ethical. Copying information from a website is a lot more complex that from a word document and there are now many computer programmes available. But is it right to scrape, and how can you protect your business from it?

If someone is scraping your website, they can slow your server and use a bigger allowance of bandwidth – meaning that your genuine visitors aren’t getting the best experience on your website. To combat this issue businesses may impellent new security measures, but this is costly and many businesses simply don’t have the money to do this. So essentially you are losing money from clients and security costs.

However a recent court case between Ryanair and PR Aviation has brought the issue of screen scraping to business owners attention, and action is being taken. The Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) preliminary ruled in January 2015 that websites can now use contractual restrictions to prohibit businesses scraping information from competitor’s websites.

Understandably when you are running a small business, you don’t have the funds to fight big battles, like Ryan Air and Ladbrokes do. But it is not just the big companies that have their websites scraped – small businesses do too. If you are in competition with another business who has the ability to screen scrape then it is most likely that they will do it to you too. Whilst it is not illegal, if a competitor holds information about your products and services then they can use it for their own gain – which could lead to you losing custom and money.

So what does all the mean for a small business? The CEJU ruling means that the business can have more control over who uses their products and services information.  The court ruled that website owners can prohibit screen scraping of their unprotected data via their terms and conditions.

Some of the information posted on your website may not be protected by intellectual property rights or the Database Directive – an official instruction that provides protection in relation to databases. The ruling means that if the information is not covered under this, then it can be covered by your terms and conditions.

Industry experts have stated that if a competitor was to scrape your website and it was in your terms and conditions that you limit/prohibit this activity, the t’s and c’s could offer protection and may strengthen a case of breach of contract. To do this it has been suggested that terms and conditions would have to be easily accessible.

Industry experts have recommended that businesses should consider amending their terms and conditions to include a screen scraping clause. It has also been suggested that should all businesses begin to protect themselves against screen scraping, it would help to discourage the activity.

Whilst having a set of terms and conditions that cover the issue of screen scraping might not stop the issue completely, if you were forced to take legal action the contract would help you. With laws changing and new rulings being passed it is always important to stay up to date with the law. Adapting a set of terms and conditions to reflect new changes will help to sustain and grow your business.

Ends

 

 

 

 

Ten Reasons Why You Need a Contract

We understand that the law can appear boring and confusing, but would you use this as a reason not to protect your business? Legally, you don’t need to have a set of terms and conditions for your business, but it would be foolish not to – you should never do business without them.  We have put together a list of the top ten reasons why your business should have a legal framework in place.

 

  1. A contract will help you to navigate the law

Many people find the law complex and confusing. A contract will help to make the law more accessible and allow you to navigate it correctly. It’s extremely common for businesses to fall foul of the law because they don’t understand it, so a contract drafted by a specialist will ensure that you always stay on the right side of the law. Of course there are DIY contract templates available online, but these will not reflect your business and offer you full protection.

 

  1. A contract helps you to get paid

In your list of business priorities, getting paid will be one of the top, so if your clients don’t pay then you lose out.  A contract can communicate to clients when they can expect an invoice and when they need to pay their bills. Should they decide not to cooperate, the legally enforceable contract will support any legal action you take to recover the debt.

 

  1. A contract helps to minimise disputes or problems

Whilst a contract won’t completely stop disputes or problems, a contract can help to minimise them. Should you have a dispute on your hands a contract can help to protect you in many different ways. It encourages your client to cooperate, but if this doesn’t happen a contract allows you to mediate to try and resolve the problem, rather than paying expensive legal fees. Of course if mediation fails then the contract is a legally enforceable document so it will support you with any legal action or debt recovery.

 

  1. A contract protects your intellectual property

Protecting your business and its assets is extremely important. Intellectual property can often confuse clients because they believe they have full ownership once they have paid for a service. This is incorrect so a contract will communicate how the intellectual property is to be used. It’s a valuable part of your business and you need to ensure that it cannot be stolen or misused.

 

  1. A contract limits liability

A legal framework helps you to manage your business and limit liability. It helps to resolve disputes, helps you to get paid and protects valuable business assets.

 

  1. A contract creates certainty

Yes things can be agreed verbally, or by email, but how much legal standing do they have? The answer is very little. A contract will outline the operational and sale processes of a business and explain how the customer or client can use the services. By communicating this information you are creating certainty – all parties know how to act and what is expected from them.

 

  1. A contract provide in-depth coverage of your business

A contract will help your clients to understand your business, how it works and how they can use the services. It will provide an understanding of your operational and sales processes so that clients can manage their expectations. It’s good business practice to communicate with your clients.

 

  1. A contract helps you to give good customer service

Should a client have a problem, they can refer to the contract and it will give them all the information they need to try and resolve it. It will explain returns, refund and repair policies, warranties, intellectual property, and complaints procedure – all the things a client needs to know! By providing this information in a document that can be referred to, the client will feel they are getting a good service.

 

  1. A contract helps to build trust and give peace of mind

By putting a legal framework in place you are showing clients that you care about them, as well as your business. A contract gives you and the client peace of mind because you know any transactions and work are protected. By providing this to clients you are allowing them to have trust in the business.

 

  1. A contract allows you to manage expectations

When you communicate the terms and conditions of sale to a client you then have the ability to manage their expectations. A contract will communicate all the information they need to do business with you, so they understand what to expect. Managing your client’s expectations allows you to give them good service and encourage them to use your business again.

 

If you don’t have a legal framework in place for your business, why not? It will allow you to grow your business, keep clients happy and protect the future of the business.

 

 

 

Are You Breaking the Law?

Staring your online business can be a daunting task, especially with a very long to-do list before you are actually up and running.

One of the things that can be easily forgotten about is having a solid set of terms and conditions drafted for your website or app. Neglecting this task, which many people deem dry or boring, can result in late or non-payments meaning that the business could be out of pocket.

Shockingly one in four websites are not offering their customer the correct options when trading online – ultimately breaking the law.

And now that the government is cracking down on businesses that don’t protect their consumers it is vital to ensure your livelihood is properly protected.

In 2012 Groupon found themselves in hot water with the Office of Fair Trading.

The OFT found that the online discount giant were guilty of ‘widespread’ breaches of consumer protection laws and were forced to change their ways or face court action.

New government research shows 87% of UK consumers feel knowledgeable when choosing and buying goods and services

And 70% of consumers said they know they have the right to return a product bought by phone, post or over the internet 4 days after it is delivered.

With consumers becoming savvier, the government reformed consumer laws and distance trading regulations in June 2014 to make them more accessible and easier to understand.

The Office of Fair Trading closed its doors in April 2014 and replaced by the Competition and Markets Authority, who closely monitor consumer law compliance.

And in order to strengthen these changes further the Consumer Rights Bill, which is currently working its way through Parliament, will outline the standards consumers can and can’t expect when they are purchasing online.

The Bill, once passed, will simplify enforcement powers and make it easier to prosecute rogue traders.

Consumers know their rights and by not acknowledging these, new businesses entering the online marketplace can also attract unwanted attention from Trading Standards.

They conduct random inspections of websites, carryout test purchases and cancel orders to test distance trading regulations.

If they find failures then they have the power to enforce financial penalties.

 

Trading Standards Scotland Chairman Colin Baxter has warned of the dangers new businesses face when entering the world of online business.

He said: “With the continuing expansion of e-commerce in the UK, new entrants are joining the market every day, many of them small micro-businesses with little experience of consumer law.

“We are concerned about the high levels of non-compliance. It’s a legal requirement to protect online buyers, to ensure fairness and a level playing field for reputable retailers, and to ensure the smooth working of the internet marketplace.”

It is the responsibility of the online business to ensure their website and online offering is reputable.  This includes being aware of the responsibilities as an online trader and ensuring the correct procedures are in place before trading online.

By not following the law and communicating the correct legal rights to online consumers, businesses are taking a huge risk.

A company that is serious about customer service and building a sustainable online business will take the right steps to ensure their customers are protected”.

 

Consumer Protection for Businesses

Staring your online business can be a daunting task, especially with a very long to-do list before you are actually up and running.

One of the things that can be easily forgotten about is having a solid set of terms and conditions drafted for your website or app. Neglecting this task, which many people deem dry or boring, can result in late or non-payments meaning that the business could be out of pocket.

Shockingly one in four websites are not offering their customer the correct options when trading online – ultimately breaking the law.

And now that the government is cracking down on businesses that don’t protect their consumers it is vital to ensure your livelihood is properly protected.

In 2012 Groupon found themselves in hot water with the Office of Fair Trading.

The OFT found that the online discount giant were guilty of ‘widespread’ breaches of consumer protection laws and were forced to change their ways or face court action.

New government research shows 87% of UK consumers feel knowledgeable when choosing and buying goods and services

And 70% of consumers said they know they have the right to return a product bought by phone, post or over the internet 4 days after it is delivered.

With consumers becoming savvier, the government reformed consumer laws and distance trading regulations in June 2014 to make them more accessible and easier to understand.

The Office of Fair Trading closed its doors in April 2014 and replaced by the Competition and Markets Authority, who closely monitor consumer law compliance.

And in order to strengthen these changes further the Consumer Rights Bill, which is currently working its way through Parliament, will outline the standards consumers can and can’t expect when they are purchasing online.

The Bill, once passed, will simplify enforcement powers and make it easier to prosecute rogue traders.

Consumers know their rights and by not acknowledging these, new businesses entering the online marketplace can also attract unwanted attention from Trading Standards.

They conduct random inspections of websites, carry out test purchases and cancel orders to test distance trading regulations.

If they find failures then they have the power to enforce financial penalties.

Trading Standards Scotland Chairman Colin Baxter has warned of the dangers new businesses face when entering the world of online business.

He said: “With the continuing expansion of e-commerce in the UK, new entrants are joining the market every day, many of them small micro-businesses with little experience of consumer law.

“We are concerned about the high levels of non-compliance. It’s a legal requirement to protect online buyers, to ensure fairness and a level playing field for reputable retailers, and to ensure the smooth working of the internet marketplace.”

It is the responsibility of the online business to ensure their website and online offering is reputable.  This includes being aware of the responsibilities as an online trader and ensuring the correct procedures are in place before trading online.

By not following the law and communicating the correct legal rights to online consumers, businesses are taking a huge risk.

A company that is serious about customer service and building a sustainable online business will take the right steps to ensure both themselves and their customers are protected”.

 

The Contract Clinic; one year on.

 

In November 2012 we (Create Ts and Cs and UWS), with the essential help from MEPC (who own and manage Hillington Park Innovation Centre) launched the Contract Clinic.  The team consisted of David Reilly, director at Create Ts and Cs and Dale McFadzean an academic solicitor and his team of law students.  The aim was to support young companies who have encountered a contractual issue, analyse the problem or query and provide options to help them overcome the issue.  The service is aimed at students or those who are starting a business, and who can’t afford legal advice and require support to crunch a contractual problem or discuss a particular contractual issue.

“We believe if a young company in the early stages of development encounters a contractual issue, if they are supported through the process their chances of sustaining their business increases”.

“The Contract Clinic at Hillington Park Innovation Centre continues to be a success story for all parties concerned. This innovative approach to advice giving and legal education allows law students from the University of the West of Scotland to participate in giving legal advice to small and start-up businesses in and around the Renfrewshire area. Students who have participated so far have gained invaluable employability skills which will better equip them for the competitive graduate marketplace. At the same time, they are also learning first-hand about the benefits of pro bono activity for the local community and it is hoped that they will carry this ethos with them into the workplace. I have been delighted at the positive feedback received from some of the clients to date, and with the continued support from Create Ts and Cs and HPIC the Clinic can only go from strength to strength.” Dale McFadzean, academic solicitor, UWS.

What the Contract Clinic clients had to say;

“The contract Clinic was like a brain-storming workshop and it really got me thinking seriously about the importance of having a well-written set of terms and conditions that are actually relevant to how my business works.  It’s clear they are experts in their field. Not only can spot the potential pitfalls, but he knows how to prepare for them and avoid them by having a well-planned and documented format in place.  It was really helpful to be able to discuss this in an informal, relaxed way without feeling like I was being judged for anything that I hadn’t got quite right.  I appreciate the clear, honest advice from David, Dale and the team.”  Nicki Chapman, Director, Black and White Media.

“Contract Clinic offered a quick and convenient service, addressing the key contract review aspects in a convenient and manageable way”.  David Mummery, MD, Flexar.

The Contract Clinic will continue on the last Friday of every month at Hillington Park Innovation Centre.  Simply email contractclinic@createtsandcs.com or call 0141 585 6384 to book your place.

The UK economy benefits from those who can code…its the time of the techie.

 

 

 

The techie is playing a large part in the UK economy growth.  In the past engineering and electronics were the innovators and they helped grow both the UK and Global economy.  Now the Internet and technology sectors both in the UK and globally are set for huge growth, with more and more small businesses getting to market providing high quality web based solutions or online retail including Apps and software for both businesses and consumers.  An article from the Guardian reported on a Boston Consulting Group report stating figures that showed the internet economy in the UK accounting for 8.3% of GDP. The UK’s closest rivals are South Korea on 7.3% and China on 5.5%, followed by Japan and the US on 4.7% each.  By 2016, the internet economy is forecasted to grow to 12.4% in the UK, contributing some £225bn to the overall UK economy.

 

With regards online software itself, an article on Forbes.com from last year states some staggering statistics on projected global sales of online software, Software as a Service (SaaS) and cloud-based business application services will grow from $13.4 billion in 2011 to $32.2 billion in 2016, also an IDC report comments that enterprise cloud application revenues reached $22.9B in 2011 and is projected global sales to reach $67.3B by 2016.  IDC also predicts that by 2106, $1 of every $5 will be spent online is spend on cloud-based software and infrastructure.

 

According to the BBC website the “internet economy” was worth more than the healthcare, construction or education sectors.  The UK also carries out far more retail online than any other major economy.  Some 13.5% of all purchases were done over the internet in 2010, according to BCG, and this is projected to rise to 23% by 2016.

 

David Reilly, Director at Create Ts and Cs commented, “the techie is a huge focus for us.  Our aim is to communicate with future developers; assisting them to put in place a web based or developer based contract so these important people in our economy are protected when trading. We want the buyers to have confidence and this will come from a sense of protection.  A solid sensible set of terms and conditions that adheres to the law and extends the buyer their rights is one way of increasing that confidence”.

 

He continues, “We are delivering numerous talks at the University of the West of Scotland, New Start Scotland and a variety of business and university events.  These future businesses require a practical approach to manage contractual risk, so they can contract with both consumers and businesses while adhering to the law and offering the correct protection/rights, (avoiding unfair terms) to both consumers and businesses”.

 

Evelyn Fitzpatrick a Teaching Fellow at University of The West of Scotland commented “Create Ts and Cs, David Reilly, has given a number of talks on contractual terms and conditions to our UWS Creative Technology students. His talks have been interesting and very well received by students.  David manages to present what is a highly technical subject in a relaxed and engaging style.  He combines content demonstrating legal principles with examples from case studies based on his own experience to give students real insight into the contemporary business world.”

 

With ICO and trading standards ever vigilant it’s important to protect your business by deploying the correct terms and conditions, offering consumers and business the correct legal rights when trading over the net.   Technologists tend to require a lot of contracts as they generally using freelancers and trade online, offering multiple services.  If techies take the time to deploy the right contracts, it builds the right rapport with the future client whether a consumer or a business and helps the net to expand while offering the correct rights to the purchaser.  The net, arguably will grow and mature (without further regulation) with the correct protection in mind for all concerned.

 

END

 

Create Ts and Cs provide a bespoke set of Terms and Conditions for your business at a fixed price, this unique approach to individualising commercial Terms and Conditions allow Start up and SME sized businesses the opportunity to protect themselves, manage risk and guard against future unnecessary disputes at an affordable price. Download: terms & conditions | privacy policy