If I can understand then I am more likely to adhere

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 contract 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, for 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 businesses 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.

Making the legalities of a business accessible to clients is good business practice. Businesses should not be interested in clouding disputes with an ambiguous contract, as it wastes precious time and money.

General confusion caused by a misunderstanding can have devastating effects on a small business, and it’s important to try and avoid these situations. Giving your clients a contract they can be read and understood will help to reduce problems, and encourage loyalty. Just think, would you buy something if you weren’t quite sure what you were getting?

Paying by Direct Debit

Paying by Direct Debit

Paying through direct debit is something we are pleased to offer to clients. In the legal sector it can be quite unusual, and it is common for work to be completed and the full bill settled within a 14 to 30 day period. But we understand that this method doesn’t always work out, especially for SME’s.

We know our clients and understand what works best for them. We know that every business is different, which is why we like to offer flexibility. Sometimes paying a bill in full is the better option for a client, and of course we are happy to accept this, but 70% of our clients pay their bills on time through our direct debit option.

We know offering direct debit offers benefits to both our clients and ourselves, so we have put together a list of the benefits of paying by direct debit.

 

  1. Helps small businesses to stay in control of their finances

Direct debit offers flexibility to our clients. Paying by direct debit means that an agreed amount will be taken at an agreed time, so both parties know what is expected. It makes an otherwise larger bill affordable for small business, and allows them to stay in control of their spending. Understandably, we want to get paid for the work we do, and so direct debit allows us to work with clients who may not otherwise have been able to afford it.

  1. Helps to make the law accessible

Many business can’t protect themselves, because they simply can’t afford to pay for it. By offering direct debit we are allowing SME’s access to the law, which will help to protect their business, help them get paid and grow.

  1. Improves cash flow

Rather than one large amount, direct debit gives you the option to pay in smaller, more manageable amounts which are agreed prior to work commencing. This improves the business cash flow and helps business to manage their cash flow.

  1. Secure payment method that promotes paperless environment

Create Ts and Cs are a paperless environment, and we can support this idea because we offer direct debit. Direct debits are secure and a safe way of paying for the work.

  1. Increased client loyalty

Because we offer the option for clients to pay their bill in instalments through direct debit, it encourages loyalty. Many of our clients continue to work with us because we offer this payment method.

Launching a new app or website?

Launching a new app or website?

When you launch a new app or website offering your products and services, do you stop to make sure you have the right protection? It is critical that you have the right terms and conditions in place for your app/website, but are these affordable?

When you are starting out it may be that a bespoke contract is not suitable for your business and an entry level contract would be more beneficial to your business to get it off the ground. These are available to download from many places on the internet, and some business even write them themselves. But as we explained in our ‘bespoke Vs DIY’ blog (link) these don’t have much legal standing and won’t offer your business strong protection.

It is important when organising your business contracts to ensure that you have the correct style when launching. Getting to market is the ultimate goal and whilst some things may be deemed unnecessary costs, getting the right terms and conditions in place for your app/website is critical especially when a business is just launching.

The way in which business contract is evolving and it is so important to make sure that your business has some sort of protection. Doing your research to find the right contract is key. For example, it is becoming more and more common for businesses to contract through social media, especially so with apps. We have all done it – download an app and use social media accounts to sign in and agree to the terms and conditions. But the DIY templates available on the internet have absolutely no facility to contract through social media.

An entry level product with a fixed price may be the best option for your business. A set of terms and conditions that aren’t bespoke but still offer the business protection, ensuring the key clauses are in place before you go to market and are up to date with technology and the new ways to contract.

Is this something you may be interested in?

Trading Internationally

Trading Internationally

In times of growth, businesses may consider expanding and selling into different countries. It also may be the case that the market is aboard for certain companies. International businesses gives better choice in the marketplace, more competitive rates and supports the local economy.

Some of the key considerations; the style of the contract is critical to doing international work, if the contract is accessible to those clients where English is  second language, then its sensible and good business practice that there’s no barrier to sale or to contract being understood and sensitive to the cultural differences.

There is a choice in what law the contracts are written under. It can be written under any jurisdiction in the world – but choosing the wrong jurisdiction could cause problems. English law is stable with a good international reputation so this is generally the jurisdiction of choice.

Whether you dealing with consumers of business, a well thought through contract will be understood by potential clients and simply add to the credibility of your company.

The best option is to draft a contract that will help to avoid disputes and problems. A contract should help to give peace of mind and assurance. This will help to minimise legal costs and battles.  Also a correctly written contract will assist to manage client’s expectations and outline their responsibilities.

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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 than 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 ts and cs 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.

 

 

 

 

Is an unsigned contract enforceable?

Is an unsigned contract enforceable?

Many clients don’t come to us until they have a problem. A contract helps a businesses to manage risks but what if it is found to be unenforceable? We have been asked all the common questions – ‘Is an email a binding contract?’, ‘We have a verbal agreement, is this enforceable?’, ‘My client never signed the contract but is it still binding?’ etc.

But there is so much conflicting information available that it can often be difficult to determine an answer to these questions. If your contract is unenforceable then it means the business can end up losing out.

Looking on the internet business forums, there are thousands of questions relating to this topic. People are worried that their contract is not binding and they will not get paid or be left open to client disputes. And they have every right to be worried.

Email or a verbal agreements still count as a contract, but there can be a number of problems like proving what the terms of the contract are if it has been agreed verbally, or what terms are enforceable if it is through email. If there has been no signature it can prove difficult to determine whether the terms were actually agreed.

It’s understandable that businesses feel they may not always need a contract. If it is a repeat client, friend or known associate there can be a mutual feeling of trust, so it appears like there would be no need for anything to be put in writing formally. However, this can jeopardise and even ruin relationships; so, why risk these friendships?  A changes of client contact or peoples personal circumstances can lead to them reacting differently.  Without a contract existing relationship run the risk of turning sour.  A contract outlines what has been agreed and helps the business and client to stay protected. It allows both parties to understand what to do in any given situation, and helps to remedy any problems – therefore protecting the relationship.

It is certain that some agreements will lead to problems and by not having a signed contract it can lead to expensive legal battles.

Lord Justice Clarke has previously been quoted saying; “The perils of beginning work without agreeing the precise basis upon which it is to be done. The moral of the story is to agree first and to start work later.”

We would always recommend having a contract and ensuring that it is signed by every client. It is far safer to wait until the ink is dry before starting work.

Confident people request contracts

Confident people request contracts

Confidence is a strange thing, it’s a feeling and an enabler, it allows you to take control for your business, apply assertiveness to tasks and project your views good or bad.
Confident people have confidence in their business and their abilities, and we have found that they are more likely to protect their business than those that concentrate on people pleasing regardless of the risk to their business.  This asset or business you’ve built up requires a certain amount of protection.  Common ways to do this is to seek formality through a contract which outlines the do and don’t and supports the business relationship especially if things go wrong.   Don’t get me wrong a certain amount of people pleasing is important but its sensible to do so post contract rather than reply on the good nature of people you may not really know.  Remember because you act fairly in your dealing doesn’t mean others have the same approach or morality when doing business; not everyone thinks like you?
Understandably, when you are running a business you don’t have the time to think of everything, and the task of organising contracts can be deemed mundane and time consuming. We find that people who have a dispute can be upset, emotional, unsure how to resolve the problem and have lost all their confidence.  Often walking away from an issue when they are owned money because of a lack of appetite to engage in a dispute with no boundaries.  Those at a low point can run into a problem and, the problem often looks bigger. We all have times when we are at a low ebb or not ourselves.  The contract can help to protect the business and maintain the status quo throughout such times, it’s a kind of armour for the business world.

 

The importance of protecting your business can often be forgotten, but by taking the time do to it you are safeguarding your livelihood, express your capabilities helps to build confidence.

 

The psychology of confident people means that they like to have control, and will usually act on this. Just like the people that have encountered a problem, confident people understand that they can’t think of everything. But they also understand that a contract will help them to plan scenarios and cover eventualities in a previously tested format. So in a proactive way, rather than wait for a problem to happen, they control the situation by taking action beforehand.

 

A confident person will seek out the help of an expert to ensure that their business is protected. They will value the output of the contract and understand that it is a remedy for disputes. Its not uncommon for people to believe that they don’t need a contract viewing the document as a barrier rather than parameters set out to protect. Unfortunately anyone can face problems; a contract generates confidence and allows more control in situations that are important. Confident people will happily seek advice and request a contract.

 

Confidence is the key factor when achieving success, and confidence is the trait that will encourage you to have a facility in place to solve problems before they actually happen. Which is why confident people request contracts.

 

 

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