As a small business owner, having valid legal contracts, whether with your customers or other businesses, can be crucial in your ultimate overall business success.  Without valid legal contracts, you may find yourself unprotected when it comes to chasing non-payment for goods or non-delivery of contracted services.  So in this blog, Fiona (our Legally Yours fixed-fee commercial law specialist) has shared six contract hacks that will make your life easier when conducting business with your consumer.

  1. Identify All Parties

The first contract hack is to ensure you identify all the parties to the contract. By this we mean include as much detail relating to both parties to the contract as you can.  This includes the company name, the company ABN, the company address, as well as a contact person within the company you are dealing with. If you’re entering into a contract with a sole trader, make sure you include the person’s name and then also the business name, ABN, address and the like.  The more detail you have in relation to identifying all the parties to the contract, the better.

  1. Define a Period of Time

The second contract hack is to always make sure you have a defined contractual period included in the contract i.e. a start date and end date to the contract.  If it is an ongoing business relationship and therefore there is no end date, ensure you specifically make reference to this in the contract by stating that the contractual period is ongoing from the commencement of the contract date.

  1. Document Contract Terms

The third contract hack is to outline the specific terms of the contract.  We liken this part of the contract to telling the story of the relationship between the parties.  You should specify the purpose of the contract, who is providing what to whom, and how the contract will be carried out between the parties.  By including as much detail as possible in the terms, you can avoid any later confusion or miscommunication as to what the contract was intended to deliver.

  1. Consider Payment Terms

The fourth contract hack is regarding payment terms.  This is an absolute essential element to any contract.  You should include the price of the goods or services, the method of calculating the costs of the payment, and exactly when payment should be made. The clearer you are in relation to the payment terms within the contract, the less that can go wrong in relation to not being paid later on.

  1. Offer and Acceptance

The fifth contract hack is to clearly state what the offer is by one party to the other ,followed by an acknowledged acceptance of the offer. The acceptance can be communicated either by the other party signing the contract, or it could be they have an option to tick an acceptance box before making payment.

Either way, it needs to be a specific action to prove that there has been some common meeting of minds on the contract. Often you see a little tickbox that says “I agree to the terms and conditions published on this website”. When a person ticks this box, the law considers that there has been a meeting of the minds in relation to what was being offered and accepted.  It is the responsibility of the person accepting and ticking the box, to have read and agreed with the terms and conditions of the contract, and thereby prevents them from coming back at a later date and asserting that they were unaware of the terms of the contract they were accepting.

  1. Dispute Resolution

The sixth contract hack is around dispute resolution. If you’ve got an ongoing contractual relationship, we strongly recommend including provisions that outline what dispute process will be enacted if the contract is breached or terminated.  It is a lot easier to agree on dispute resolution processes when both parties are in agreement, as opposed to when a breach or termination has occurred.  This could include accessing specific mediation services and/or time-frames around resolving disputes.

If you would like to know more about contracts and how to best protect your business, please contact us at www.legallyyours.com.au and we will connect you with Fiona for a free consultation and fixed-fee quote.

When you need a lawyer, it’s important to get it right. At Legally Yours we connect you with high quality, fixed price commercial lawyers. This means you’ll know upfront exactly what you’ll be paying. No more hourly billing, no more price uncertainty.

For a complimentary consultation and fixed-fee quote connect with us at http://www.legallyyours.com.au/get-a-quote/ or call us on 1300 822 708.

Written by Mira Stammers and Karen Finch from Legally Yours and in consultation with Fiona McCord.