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Competition and Markets Authority wants to educate traders.
Do you sell goods or services to consumers?
Are your terms of business fair?
Do you have terms of business?
Have you updated them since 1st October 2015?
The Competition and Markets Authority (previously the Office of Fair Trading) has carried out a survey and discovered that over half the businesses questioned did not understand the meaning or significance of unfair contract terms. It has launched a campaign to put that right, which you can find online here.
The law on consumer contracting changed on 1st October 2015 with the Consumer Rights Act 2015. Its insistence on “transparency” means that many consumer contracts written before then will not be compliant. Other changes in consumer law will also not be adequately dealt with in older contracts. Consumer terms must be “fair”.
According to the CMA’s report, the length of time that businesses leave between reviews of their consumer contracts is typically between four and five years. They say this is not frequent enough as this length of time means businesses could be subjecting themselves to risk should new laws or regulations come into force that render their terms and conditions outdated.
Non-compliant terms of business do not only risk losing arguments with customers (and possibly losing customers too) but can expose the business to enforcement action from Trading Standards.
Somewhat surprisingly, only one in five businesses which were reviewing their terms made use of a legal adviser or solicitor to help them; much use was made of unqualified members of staff, general “business advisers” or accountants.
If you need your terms of business reviewing, our commercial team are able to assist, and if necessary can re-write B2C contract terms, including for digital businesses. Contact Geoffrey Sturgess or another member of the Commercial team on 02380 717717 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively you can visit their section of the website here.
This is for information purposes only and is no substitute for, and should not be interpreted as, legal advice. All content was correct at the time of publishing and we cannot be held responsible for any changes that may invalidate this article.