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Cutting costs is leaving businesses open to ruin

A local solicitors firm is warning that companies are leaving themselves liable to costs of millions of pounds, and even ruin, by cutting costs on basic business law.

Maxwell Hodge is dealing with an increasing number of cases where firms have cut costs on basics, often lifting information such as their terms and conditions from competitor’s sites on the internet. These have then failed to protect the business when something has gone wrong.

Commercial law specialist Richard Manley said: “Cutting costs on basics like terms and conditions (T&Cs) is courting disaster, yet we are seeing an increasing amount of firms doing just that in order to save money in the short term.”

According to Richard part of this is down to the growth of companies trading in the web.  He said: “Often we see a lot of problems when it’s small firms who are trading online. Rather than invest in some legal advice, they will copy and paste information from other sites and use that as their website terms and conditions, but that can get you into real hot water.” 

He advises that terms and conditions on any trading website must be specific for each individual business – although it might seem like a trivial matter, it is anything but. Furthermore, there is copyright in the T&Cs, so copying them without permission could only create more problems.

Richard said: “Failing to address these simple issues could even spell the end of your business – if you are not adequately covered by comprehensive T&Cs and you’re selling something online you could find you’re simply not protected if things go wrong, and that can cost.  We’ve dealt with firms who lost out to the tune of thousands because they’ve cobbled some T&Cs together from the internet, which have then not adequately protected their business.”

The terms and conditions for your website can include the legally required information such as your contact details and VAT registration.

Website T&Cs will generally comprise your usual terms of business as well as specific terms for online trading.

An acceptable use policy for those coming to your website and a privacy policy regarding the information you hold about your customers are also required.

Finally, a disclaimer should be devised for the bottom of all email correspondence – the main reason for this is to protect you should the email be sent to the wrong person. There is often industry standard information that needs to be contained in your emails and this can be contained in the disclaimer.

Richard said: “A basic set of website terms and conditions for your business will cost around a £800 and it’s money well spent, because your T&Cs are the backbone and safety net for your business-- you can’t underestimate their importance.”

Maxwell Hodge is one of the region’s leading law firms operating from eight offices stretching from Formby to Wirral with a city centre office in the heart of Liverpool’s business district.


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