We are all guilty of failing to read the standard terms and conditions but what if that small print could cost you thousands?

Many Companies now have standard terms and conditions or standard agreements which they want you to enter into before providing goods and services. These terms tend  to benefit the party presenting them.

I recently spent a day marking up amendments to a national retailer’s standard agreement. It was entirely one sided and included a right to deduct a percentage commission from my client’s charges when they paid the bill. Luckily my client had instructed me to consider the agreement for him and make any necessary amendments but many decide that paying a few hundred pounds for a lawyer to consider a contract is wasted money, particularly if the contract award is potentially very lucrative.

When a lawyer considers an agreement or terms and conditions they are not just considering the terms and which clauses should be added, amended or removed. We also consider the commercial risk of any contract. We have to weigh up the potential liability for our client if something went wrong against the benefits of the agreement and likelihood of something going wrong  for our client.

I also need to consider where the parties to the agreement are based as, if a party is based overseas, and doesn’t pay for goods or services provided then it could be very expensive to pursue the overseas party to recover unpaid invoices.

I have also seen agreements which fix the prices of the goods being acquired but do not allow the supplier the right to review those prices or terminate the agreement. My client could potentially have been in breach of contract if they had tried to terminate and would have been bound to continue to provide goods at this years prices regardless of any changes in raw material or production costs.

Remember that failing to read a contract is not a valid reason to not be bound by its terms. Reading contracts can be time consuming so let a lawyer make amendments to negotiate a fairer deal for you, hopefully saving you time, money and worry in the long run.

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