Commercial contracts

Robust commercial contracts are essential for all businesses. Contracts can take many forms – formal signed agreements, terms and conditions, letters or emails. Contracts can even be verbal or made as a course of dealing between businesses over an extended period. Regardless of the size of your business, or the type of contracts you have, your commercial arrangements are fundamental to the success of your business.

Ensuring that your business arrangements are reflected in your contractual structure and understanding your exposure to risks and liabilities as a business are key drivers of success. Linked to this is using your commercial contract to protect your business’ brand and reputation.

No matter what sector your business is in, the commercial arrangements need to be fit for purpose. That is why there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to contracting and it’s important to seek legal advice at an early stage to help you identify key priorities and risks.

We can help with your commercial contracts, including:

  • agency
  • collaboration
  • distribution
  • franchise
  • IT
  • manufacturing and supply
  • marketing
  • purchasing and selling
  • outsourcing
  • licencing
  • services
  • technology
  • terms and conditions

Contracts are not static. Laws change and your contracts should change with them. Forthcoming changes which will impact on how your current contracts are drafted include:

For more information click here. Alternatively, please contact our experienced commercial lawyers to discuss the legal and commercial protections you should include in your commercial contracts.

Agency and Distribution agreements

If your business relies on a supply chain, agency or distribution agreements are essential documents to ensure that it operates efficiently. It will be necessary to review and adapt such agreements as your business grows.

Our company commercial team is dedicated to understanding your business objectives and will help you tailor these agreements to your specific needs.

Outsourcing agreements

The flexible and fast-changing nature of modern business relationships often requires the need to outsource various services and capabilities.

Our teams have expertise in intellectual property, data protection and employment law to support the development of your outsourcing agreements and contracting arrangements.

Partnership and LLP agreements 

Partnership agreements are important in establishing how a business venture undertaken by multiple parties is owned and structured. They can also set out how the risks and rewards of the business are shared and contingencies and mechanisms if a partner decides leave or a dispute arises.

We can help put together or adapt such agreements, taking into account your specific needs, arrangements or change in circumstances.

Safeguarding against claims by consumers

Any company involved in business to consumer transactions will recognise the different legal and commercial environments in which regulation takes place. The importance of reputation, ever more at risk of attack from the enhanced publication opportunities the internet offers to unhappy customers. At the same time, the strict consumer protection regime and the oversight provided by Trading Standards and the Office of Fair Trading, means that this can be a challenging environment where keeping ahead of the regulatory game is vital.

We can advise on your obligations to consumers which underpin your ability to protect your customer relationships. This includes guidance on how to treat customers fairly, how to protect your business from damaging consumer claims and possible enforcement action by the regulatory bodies.

Our teams can advise your business on your obligations for traditional and e-commerce trading, under the Distance Selling Regulations, Consumer Protection Act, Data Protection Regulations, Sale of Goods legislation, and Unfair Terms in Consumer Contract Regulations, amongst others.

Contracts that companies have with consumers are heavily regulated. This includes rules on what can and cannot be included in contracts and the rights and remedies that consumers can rely on.

A term is often set out in Terms and Conditions of Business, but it can be any written term contained in a catalogue, brochure or on a website or email, or communicated verbally, either by phone or face-to-face.

Unfair terms are not binding on consumers. Consumers can challenge unfair terms in Court and the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and Trading Standards can also bring cases to stop their use. Broadly, a term is unfair if it causes a significant imbalance in the parties’ rights and obligations under the contract, to the detriment of the consumer.

In addition, the wording must be transparent and prominent, which means that language must be readable, clear and jargon-free. Terms must be brought to the consumers’ attention in a practically effective way before the contract is entered into, so that they can see and understand all terms that could be to their disadvantage. Terms that are not transparent or prominent will be given the meaning that is most favourable to the consumer.

We can help you to ensure that your terms and conditions are compliant with the relevant regulations. For more information, click here.