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Sunk with c(l)ause - lessons to takeaway

09 Jan 2019

Last week was definitely not a 'good news week' for 'start-up' shipping company, Seaborne Freight. Firstly, it (and the Government) suffered embarrassment when the media revealed that Seaborne Freight had been awarded a multi-million pound shipping contract despite not owning a single vessel or having any relevant trading history.

Further criticism and red faces followed, when journalists jumped on the fact that Seaborne Freight had adopted terms of business more appropriate for a takeaway food business rather than for a cross-channel ferry operator: the terms contained references to paying for “your meal/order”, amongst a host of other mistakes.

It appears that Seaborne Freight may have taken an approach we have seen other businesses use in an attempt to save on costs: copying and pasting terms from another business without giving proper consideration as to what is required or appropriate.

What can you takeaway from this latest clanger? In our view it pays to appoint an appropriately qualified lawyer to draft or to review and amend your terms of business; you would expect nothing less from us, but bear in mind the benefits for your business of taking professional advice:

  • Better protection: your terms of business should be directed at reducing risk and limiting your liability.
  • Enhanced image: a poor set of terms may make your business look unprofessional to customers/clients: MPs described Seaborne Freight’s  terms as ‘looking like [those] from a scam website’.
  • Clear obligations: knowing the what, when, how and who can save you and your customers/clients time and money resolving uncertainty.
  • Compliance: a good set of terms should address the ever changing legal landscape, thus making sure you comply with laws and legislation, such as the new General Data Protection Regulations and consumer rights laws.

If you want to discuss your own terms of business, please contact our Commercial Team.


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