Business Law and Using a Solicitor

5. Contract Tactics for Sellers

5.1 Use a solicitor to draw up standard terms of trade. When selling to consumers, terms must always be ‘fair’ and in plain English.

Make sure the buyer is aware of, and agrees to, the terms before the deal is made.

  • If the contract is in writing, it should expressly refer to your terms of trade.
  • In most cases, any reference to your terms in an invoice will not be effective. An invoice is usually only seen after the contract has been made.

5.2 Reduce the risk of breaching the implied terms by describing your product or service accurately.

  • State tolerances in technical specifications, to give yourself practical margins for error.
  • Explain to the buyer what to expect of goods of that age, or price.
  • Let the buyer know of any limitations and defects. Do not make exaggerated claims.
  • Allow the buyer to examine the product.
  • Make sure any safety instructions are clear and accurate.
  • Make sure that any samples you provide are typical. Give the buyer time to examine your samples, and point out any likely differences in the final product.

5.3 If someone buys against your advice, ask the buyer to sign a written confirmation.

5.4 If the buyer asks if the product is suitable for a specific need, say you do not know – unless you are very sure of your facts.

  • From a legal point of view, it is unwise to ask buyers what they are going to use your product for, as you may be liable if it is not suitable.
  • If a buyer orders customised goods, you may be liable if they do not fit their purpose.

5.5 If you are selling your good and services online or by other distance methods, you must provide customers with certain information.

  • Your business name and address.
  • A description of the goods or service.
  • The price including taxes, any delivery costs and arrangements and the payment terms.
  • The duration of the contract.
  • Any cancellation rights and how to go about it.
  • An order confirmation.

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