Terms and Conditions on Your Invoices by Rob Andrews

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I am still surprised by the number of times I hear business owners say that because their terms and conditions are on their company invoices this means that they can rely on them in the event of a dispute.

This view can quite often be wrong, and prove costly.

Invoices are most often issued after a contract has been formed.  If that is the first time your customer sees them, the law will say are not included in the contract terms at formation.

This means a customer must be fixed with knowledge of your terms at the start of your discussion with them.

I advise clients to make sure their terms are visible to customers from the very start of an enquiry, and so putting them on your website is useful and/or having them printed on your paper brochures.

Then whenever an enquiry comes in, and you respond, a statement should be added to your communication confirming that any order placed will be subject to your terms, with a copy of them attached.

If a quote is subsequently requested, issue that to the customer and confirm again in writing that if accepted your terms will apply.

A purchase order is often issued to you at this stage, and this can sometimes attach the buyer’s terms.  If you don’t respond to this, your terms could be excluded.  So, I advise that a written acknowledgement of order should be sent to the customer confirming things like delivery times or payment requirements, and there your terms should be re-asserted, and attached.

Finally, your invoice is issued and again at that stage it is fine to have your terms on the reverse, and it is useful to state them there, but only as confirmatory of what you have issued to buyers already.

If a good set of terms, with the right wording on paperwork is used, you can enjoy the benefit of protection contained in those terms.

Why not let us do a review of your contracting process.  We are offering a limited number of free reviews worth £250 plus vat to the first 5 enquirers responding to this post. 

We have the expertise to advise on drafting terms, and contracting procedures, much of which can be automated now, and give training to sales and accounts teams.  Let us know how we can support you, and we’ll be happy to put a bespoke training package together to save you time, money and to enhance the contractual protection you need in the world of commerce today!

Call me on 01746 769 700 or email randrews@andrewsritson.co.uk

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