Do you really need a lawyer to draft the Standard Terms & Conditions for your business?
Chat GPT will give you a template that looks reasonably professional. You could simply tweak those with a bit of help from a competitor’s T&Cs (if you’re willing to run the risk of copyright infringement. Which by the way, is not recommended).
The biggest problem with doing that is: Chat GPT doesn’t know your business. It’s not a lawyer and doesn’t understand compliance. So without professional advice, you might expose your business to unnecessary risk.
Here are a few reasons why it is usually a good idea to get your own, professionally drafted T&Cs.
1. Protect yourself against known risks
One of the main functions of your terms and conditions is to protect your business from the risks you face every day. Those are things like late payments, unlawful use of your IP, and damage of goods in transit for example.
The risks will be different in every business. As the business owner, you’ll know the risks you’re most worried about. A lawyer will also be able to spot potential areas of risk that you possibly haven’t considered, for which you might need protection in your terms. By working together (with another human) you create a more resilient business with robust T&Cs.
2. A strong legal position for recourse
It might come as a surprise, but just because your terms are written down, doesn’t necessarily mean they’re enforceable by law. They must be fair, and they must be incorporated into your contracts.
Of course, fairness is in the eye of the beholder. You might think it’s perfectly reasonable to charge interest at 20% for late payments, but your customer (and a judge) may deem that to be excessively high. As a general rule, interest at 2% - 4% above the Bank of England’s base rate is usually acceptable, but that may be subject to change.
Lawyers have the most up-to-date knowledge on case law and the ways in which judges have interpreted “fairness”. So professionally drafted T&Cs are much more likely to be enforceable, and provide your business with protection.
To incorporate your T&Cs, you must show that your terms apply to the contract before it is concluded. This is usually straightforward, but you don’t want to get it wrong. It is enough to set out your T&Cs in brochures, quotations, purchase order forms, on your website or on delivery notes.
So long as you have T&Cs that cover your risks, which are fair and reasonable, you’re in a strong legal position if anything goes wrong. It’s much easier to establish a breach of contract when you have an underlying contract to point to.
3. Build trust with your customers and suppliers
Most people like to know the parameters of what’s expected of them in a business relationship. When you set out each party’s rights and obligations at the start of the interaction, you’re both clear on what’s expected of you. That clarity builds trust and leads to smoother long-term relationships. By contrast, badly drafted T&Cs can damage your reputation and erode trust in your business interactions.
4. Stay on the right side of compliance
Your T&Cs should work in harmony with the regulations of your industry, privacy laws, and your other business documentation. You don’t want any confusing contradictions that could dilute or even negate your terms. With a lawyer on side, you can be confident that your business is protected, and remains compliant with the various laws and regulations that impact your operations.
If you’d like us to draft your T&Cs for you, please contact us at HooperHyde solicitors.