When a business uses consumer contracts for the supply of goods or services, a business needs to be aware of the far-reaching consumer protection laws which provide consumers with rights that cannot be varied or contracted out of. The main areas of legislations affecting terms and conditions with consumers are:
(a) The Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977
(b) The Unfair Terms in Consumer Contract Regulations 1999
(c) The Sale of Goods Act 1979
(d) Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982
(e) Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000
(f) Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008
Your terms and conditions should cover the following topics and will more than likely be implied into any contract with a consumer where your terms and conditions make no reference:
(a) Goods must match their description and be of satisfactory quality and fit for their purpose
(b) A consumer can choose their remedy if the goods are defective but your terms should give the consumer a reasonable period of time to report the defect.
(c) Terms should be expressed in plain English and important terms highlighted.
(d) Returning the goods where they are defective – should they returned to the shop or will be they be collected? Who will bear the cost of collecting the goods?
(e) On delivery, do the goods need to be installed – what happens to a defective good, such as dishwasher, once installed? Should it be fixed or replaced?
(f) The price for the goods should be clear – it should stipulate what is and what is not included in the price. As inflation rises, it is likely that the price of the goods will rise – if that is the case any term allowing you to increase the price should be reasonable and fair.
(g) Payment terms should be clear structured and fair – you cannot agree to installment payments and then demand full payment.
(h) Do you require a deposit? What happens if the contract is cancelled – is the deposit refundable?
(i) If a consumer is late making payment, what are your remedies? Can you charge interest? What is a reasonable rate of interest?
(j) Liability – what can you exclude liability for? In short, it is only fair to exclude liability for breach of contract for your negligence to the extent that it is reasonable. You must ensure that any exclusions of liability are brought to the consumer’s attention very clearly. It is unlawful to exclude liability for personal injury or death caused by your negligence.
(k) Are you selling goods over the internet?
(l) Are any of the goods bespoke or made to measure?
At Ironmonger Curtis, our commercial solicitors can advise on drafting suitable terms and conditions for your business. It is important that not only do they protect your business but that they also work in practice. We can also provide legal advice where a consumer is bringing a claim against your business.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 08452252635 for more information.