About ContractStore

ContractStore produces contract templates and legal business documents for use in business. The idea is that you save money on legal costs by using templates and also by protecting your business against legal claims.

Consumer Rights Act: Services

Whatever service you are providing, you will need to meet basic standards

Whatever service you are providing, you will need to meet basic standards

The new Consumer Rights law coming into force on 1st October 2015 is significant: it introduces new rights for consumers as well as consolidating a lot of existing legislation, and it applies to almost all all businesses in the UK that supply goods, services or digital products to consumers.

Definitions

A ‘consumer’ is an individual acting for purposes that are wholly or mainly outside that individual’s trade, business, craft or profession.

A ‘trader’ is a person acting for purposes relating to that person’s trade, business, craft or profession and it includes public sector authorities and government departments.

Services

Every contract for services includes a term, implied by law,  that:

  • the trader will exercise reasonable skill and care in providing the service
  • any information* given to the consumer about the service is included as a term in the contract if it is taken into account by the consumer when deciding to enter into the contract (unless the trader qualified he information at the time)

Where no price is specified in a contract, a term is implied that the consumer will pay a reasonable price for the service.

Where no time for performing the service is specified in the contract, the trader must perform the service within a reasonable time.

*Consumer Regulations that came into force in 2014 specify the information that a trader has to give to a consumer when entering into a contract- there are 24 separate items  and these were mentioned in the blog post we wrote at the time.

None of these implied terms can be excluded in the contract.

Remedies for a consumer where the trader is in breach of any of these implied terms may comprise:

  • repeat performance by the trader
  • a price reduction (which in some circumstances can mean a full refund)

So, if a trader has a clause in his contract limiting his liability to 10% of the contract price, that is illegal and will not be binding on the consumer.

These statutory remedies do not prevent a consumer claiming damages or seeking some other order such as specific performance but the law says the consumer cannot recover twice for the same loss.

The Consumer Rights Act can be found here.

Consumer Rights Act: Goods

Goods trade is subject to new legislation in the UK coming into force on 1 October 2015

New rights for consumers in the UK will apply from 1 October 2015

The new Consumer Rights law coming into force on 1st October 2015 is significant: it introduces new rights for consumers as well as consolidating a lot of existing legislation, and it applies to almost all contracts between traders and consumers.

Definitions

A ‘consumer’ is an individual acting for purposes that are wholly or mainly outside that individual’s trade, business, craft or profession.

A ‘trader’ is a person acting for purposes relating to that person’s trade, business, craft or profession and it includes public sector authorities and government departments.

‘Goods’ are ‘tangible moveable items’  – in other words, things you can handle – so they do not include software or buildings.

Selling Goods – What the Law Says

It is a legal requirement that all goods sold to a consumer are:

  • of satisfactory quality
  • match their description
  • match any sample that has been supplied
  • match any model which has been seen by the consumer (unless differences have been pointed out)

“Satisfactory quality” is the standard that a reasonable person would consider satisfactory taking account of the description, price and other relevant circumstances. The quality includes:

  • fitness for the purposes for which those goods are usually supplied
  • appearance and finish
  • freedom from minor defects
  • Safety
  • Durability

If the sale includes installation by the trader and the goods are installed incorrectly, then they do not conform to the contract.

If, before the contract is made, a consumer specifies a particular purpose for which the goods are required, then they have to be fit for that purpose even if they’re not usually supplied for that reason.

Traders are required to provide a lot of pre-contract information to consumers – including price, payment, delivery, performance etc. under The Consumer Contracts (Information etc.) Regulations. All that of information is now treated as a term of the contract. (See our previous guidance article on those regulations)

Remedies for Defective Goods

If goods do not meet these standards, a consumer has a number of potential remedies:

  • Within 30 days from delivery (or installation if this is included), reject the substandard goods and claim a full refund
  • after the 30 days the consumer can require the repair or replacement of defective goods
  • if the trader does not replace or repair defective goods at all or does so but the goods are still defective, the consumer can require either a price reduction or a final right to reject the non-conforming goods and get a refund.

Consumers should normally raise any claim within six months from delivery.

A refund must be made within 14 days of the trader agreeing that a refund is due and no fee for arranging the refund is allowed.

Whether or not the contract requires the consumer to return rejected goods, the reasonable costs of return must be borne by the trader. But there is an exception if the consumer returns them from a different place than that where they were delivered. So, for example, if a trader in London supplies goods to a consumer in Brighton and the consumer then moves to Paris, the trader only has to pay the cost of return from Brighton, not the cost from Paris.

If a consumer rejects goods more than six months after delivery, the trader is allowed to deduct from the refund an amount to take account of the time the consumer had use of the goods. (But no deduction is allowed if the goods are a motor vehicle)

The remedies do not prevent the right of a consumer to claim damages or seek some other remedy in the courts. However, the law does say that the consumer cannot make a double recovery for the same loss.

Delivery of Goods

The law (Section 28) requires a trader to deliver goods within 30 days unless another period is agreed. If delivery is not within this period the consumer can treat the contract as at an end if the consumer made it clear that delivery within that period was essential. Otherwise the consumer can demand delivery within ‘an appropriate’ period and if the trader does not meet this, the consumer can cancel.

Risk

Risk of loss or damage passes to the consumer when the goods come into his possession or they are delivered to a carrier commissioned by the consumer.

Your Terms

Using a good standard set of terms and conditions, and getting legal advice if there is anything aren’t sure about, is always good practice regardless of changes in the law. ContractStore have a range of ready made T&Cs and other documents for selling goods that are specifically designed for businesses trading goods. For example:

 

Is Your Business Ready for the new Consumer Rights Act?

The new Consumer Rights Act will come into force in October 2015

The new Consumer Rights Act will come into force in October 2015

This new law is significant: it introduces new rights for consumers as well as consolidating a lot of existing legislation, and it applies to almost all contracts between traders and consumers.

It comes into force on 1st October 2015 and affects all traders that supply goods, services or digital products to consumers.

Definitions

A ‘consumer’ is an individual acting for purposes that are wholly or mainly outside that individual’s trade, business, craft or profession.

A ‘trader’ is a person acting for purposes relating to that person’s trade, business, craft or profession and it includes public sector authorities and government departments.

Digital Products are Now Included

The law deals separately with sale of Goods, Services and (for the first time) Digital Products – what standards have to be met, what information provided, and the rights of a consumer to cancel or get compensation if the trader is not complying with the law. (This will of course affect ContractStore so we are paying especially close attention!)

It also covers Unfair Terms in contracts.

More Guidance

Over the coming month we will be publishing guidance for businesses who trade in Goods, Services, and Digital Products. You can follow this blog or sign up for our enewsletter below, to get the updates.

Get updates by email:


Follow ContractStore Legal Business Blog on WordPress.com

 

How to Find and Motivate Great Agents and Distributors

How to get started with exporting

Ebook available to download from ContractStore

Simon Bedford, author of Exporting Made Easy, gives guidance on working with agents and distributors, ahead of the upcoming UKTI Export Week, 18-22 May

Why use an agent or distributor?
The appointment of an overseas agent or distributor can be a quick and low cost way to open up a new international market. However, there are many questions about the timing, how to find the right person, their role and responsibilities and how to motivate them to perform consistently well over the medium and longer term.

Our man in…
Companies can start exporting directly without using a “middleman”. They can simply travel to the market, having carried out some research, and try to book the orders. However, after a short time there is a realisation that a local man on the ground in the form of an agent or distributor can bring results more quickly and this is a continuous point of contact for you and your customers.

Companies usually know whether they require a purely commission agent or need a distributor who can stock products locally in the market. As the export of services from the UK has expanded rapidly in recent years and there is no tangible product to stock so an agent is all that is required.

Ensuring good relationships
If an agent is performing well, there should be a good relationship and communication between the customer, the agent and of course, the exporter.
The agent is simply identifying and ‘warming’ up the customer in return for an agreed commission.

The alternative, is for an exporter of products to supply and invoice the distributor who will hold stock, add his mark-up and in turn sell to the end customer. The distributor may well regard the customer as their client and therefore not be keen to allow the exporter to build any relationship.

Finding the right agent and distributor
There are many ways to identify good agents and distributors. This can be via other companies operating in the sector, exhibitions, trade associations, the internet and social media or via UK Trade & Investment, as this is a service we regularly offer from the British Embassy network worldwide.

What to look out for
Agent and distributors usual immediately ask for exclusivity. Be cautious, consider a trial period, and do not offer too large a territory. In a vast country such as the USA, China or India one agent is unlikely to have the capacity to cover more than a part of the country or region. If offering a region covering several countries again be careful; even if he has the ability, start with a limited area and see how it develops – much easier to expand than contract the territory; and always be specific – don’t, for example, refer to the Middle East but instead specify which countries are covered.

What motivates them?
Finally motivation. If we put ourselves in the shoes of an agent or distributor we can understand the factors that they would find motivational. Sales and profit, of course, but support particularly in the first year to establish the product or service in the market, and regular communication to ensure there is an understanding of how the business is developing.

*********************

About the Author

Simon Bedford of SGB Associates (UK) Ltd, provides export training workshops,  consultancy, and international marketing through UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) since 2004. He has supported over 500 businesses to get started with exporting and is the author of Exporting Made Easy, a straightforward guide that is available in print at a new discounted price (£5.99 + P&P) or as an ebook (£4.99) from ExportingMadeEasy.com

Doing Business in Russia

Companies regularly consider their plans for growth of their business and one of the main possibilities for growth is expansion to new markets.  Interviews of management of different foreign companies and recent global surveys show that the overwhelming majority of such companies are considering entering the Russian market as one of their top priorities.  In general, Russia is an attractive market for foreign investors.

However, the high profit expectations which Russia offers are often coupled with suspicious attitudes towards the Russian partners and Russian legal system, which, together with political factors, often outweigh the perceived benefits of investing in Russia’s rapidly developing economy.  This article is intended to briefly address some of the concerns related to Russian business partners and the Russian legal system.  We will attempt to take inside knowledge and experience of Russian legal and business reality and analyze it from the standpoint of a foreign businessman, providing you a myth-free picture of the legal perspectives of doing business in Russia.

Trading with Russia. Image from Wikipedia

There are plenty of good trade opportunities with Russia despite many foreigners’ concerns

The Legal System

The current Russian legal system still in its infancy.  For over 70 years, until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia had a command economy, state controlled commerce and recognized no private ownership.  What did business look like at that time?  The State prepared a plan, which was obligatory and which already prescribed what goods could be produced, whom they could be sold to and at what price.  There was actually no place for negotiations and, consequently, no established market practice and space for development of the legal system although, even in those days, civil relations were regulated by the Civil Code of the USSR.

In 1994 the current Civil Code of the Russian Federation was adopted.  It is the main source of civil and corporate law in Russia.  There are also a number of other normative acts (Federal Laws are the main part of them) which regulate different business issues. There are many articles on the internet on the differences between the Russian legal system and common law (hence no need to name them in this short article) and probably the main one is that Russian law does not recognize precedent when interpreting provisions of the Civil Code and other Federal Laws.  However, recent developments in the Russian legal system show that more and more features of common law are being adopted.  Moreover, within the last few years Russian law has taken a big, but as yet informal, step in the direction of common law – the significance of previous court decisions and especially decisions of the higher courts has increased, so that such decisions are usually treated as binding for other Russian courts dealing with similar disputes. We believe that if this tendency continues (and we do not see any obstacles for it to happen), it will help to build confidence in the Russian system among foreign investors and Russian businessmen.

Entering the Market

The other source of problems faced by foreign investors and a lot of Russian business people which often causes misunderstandings is miscommunication.   Even today a number of Russian companies are managed by people who started their professional career in Soviet times.  Lack of background experience, education in the command economy, suspicion of their partners are some of the characteristics which make some Russian partners behave in an unpredictable manner.  Thus, if a foreign investor is planning to enter the Russian market, it can be a good idea to have someone (a manager, lawyer, whoever) who is capable of building a bridge of mutual understanding between the Russian partner and the foreign investor. And once this bridge is built, you can have confidence in your partner.

We also believe it may be useful to focus on some legal aspects of doing business in Russia: establishment of a legal presence, regulatory framework, taxation, repatriation of profits (exchange controls) and consideration of potential dispute.

Establishing a Legal Presence in Russia

Your legal presence in Russia can be established in the form of an entity  – LLC (limited liability company) or  JSC (joint stock company) or in the form of the branch or representative office.  Each form has its own advantages and disadvantages, but around 90% of foreign companies working in Russia are set up as an LLC (in some cases only an LLC or JSC will allow you to conduct business operations and get a licence if this is needed for your activities).

To register an LLC you will need to prepare a set of documents which has to be submitted to the tax office which serves the location chosen for your business.  You will also need to open a bank account and find premises for your office and verify some documents before a notary.  Registration of an LLC usually takes no more than 5-7 business days and you will then get a set of documentation confirming state registration of your business.  In general, this process is not too complicated, but, as in any country, there are some peculiarities and we recommend that you engage local lawyers to guide you through the process.

Repatriation of Profits and Exchange Controls

One important topic for a foreign investor is the possibility of repatriation of profits and the related exchange control laws.  Usually, repatriation of profits is made in a variety of ways: payments of intercompany invoices, royalties, dividends or  interest under a loan agreement – for your particular business needs tax you should contact your tax advisor.  If certain conditions are met (usually, this involves the total amount of money to be transferred) you may be required to open a special file with your bank and attach a contract between the concerned companies which serves as the justification for such money transfer. This is quite a simple procedure and usually companies do not experience any difficulties.

Licensing

If your business requires a licence (e.g. if you sell alcohol) or any other authorization (e.g. if you conduct construction activities), you will be able to apply once your legal presence is registered.  Russia has quite detailed procedures for obtaining a licence/authorization and, so long as you follow it carefully, it should usually be granted within 1-2 months. If your licence/authorization is for some reasons declined, there is a possibility to challenge this in court – the state Arbitration court.

Court System

Having mentioned the possibility of a dispute in the courts, we will very briefly focus on the Russian court system insofar as it affects commercial disputes.  This consists of state courts – known as the arbitrazhniy courts – which consider commercial disputes, an IP court for intellectual property cases established in 2013, mediation and commercial arbitration.

Usually parties to a dispute will choose between a state court (e.g. Arbitrazhniy Court of Moscow) and commercial arbitration (e.g. the International Commercial  Arbitration  Court at the RF Chamber of Commerce and Industry).  In our view, both options are fine as decision of both courts can be enforced in Russia, at the same time it is more likely that only decisions of the ICAC can be enforced overseas in countries that are signatories to the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (New York, 1958) (the “New York Convention”). However, proceedings in a commercial arbitration court (e.g. ICAC) in general are far more expensive than in the state court.  Thus, in our view, a decision on which to choose needs to be taken on a case-by-case basis depending on the particular circumstances of each case.

Mediation, a way of resolving disputes without recourse to a judge or arbitrator, is also possible in Russia, which enacted a federal law of mediation in 2011.

Current International Sanctions

While reading this you may wonder whether these processes are affected by the current political situation, with tension and sanctions between Russia and a number of foreign states.  In general, this has of course brought some obstacles, especially in oil & gas, financing and the food industry (prohibition of import of certain food products to Russia), but even in these industries some of the obstacles can be mitigated.  And if your business is small or medium and is not connected with these spheres of activity, we do not believe that it will be affected by the current political situation.

To conclude this short introduction to business in Russia, we would like to say that the worries described above as well as others that you may read in the media, while sometimes based on real evidence, are exaggerated and business in Russia is still worth doing.  This is especially true if a foreign investor in a Russian business undertakes intensive preparatory work so as to protect itself from the unique Russian problems and risks described above.  The thousands of foreign companies that come to Russia every year and the numbers of newly opened Russian businesses are quickly realizing that most of the problems are manageable.

Author Profile

Nikolay is a Russian in-house lawyer living in Moscow. He has been dealing with foreign business since 2005 and has participated in a number of projects which have included the full-scale legal support and management of start-up projects in Russia. Nikolay has experience in the organization and management of businesses in Russia and believes that his core goal as a lawyer is to bridge the gap between the reality in Russia and foreign perceptions, by providing high quality legal services and business consulting. Nikolay is responsible for the Russian section of the ContractStore –  see them at contractstore.com/russiancontracts

Libel on Facebook: ‘Public Interest’ Not the Same As ‘Interesting to the Public’

Be careful what you say about your friends on Facebook – even if it is true it could be libellous!

Social media postings are increasingly coming under the spotlight of the law. In the UK hate mail has led to criminal investigations and there have also been libel actions – not least against Sally Bercow who posted defamatory information on Twitter about Lord McAlpine and had to pay damages and substantial costs.

In South Africa, the case of H v. W involving defamation on Facebook is worth noting, not least because the judge said that even if a statement is true, that is not a good defence to a claim of defamation: it must also be in the public interest for the statement to be published.

In this case a woman posted the following on her Facebook wall:

I wonder too what happened to the person who I counted as a best friend for 15 years, and how this behaviour is justified. Remember I see the broken hearted faces of your girls every day. Should we blame the alcohol, the drugs, the church, or are they more reasons to not have to take responsibility for the consequences of your own behaviour? But mostly I wonder whether, when you look in the mirror in your drunken testosterone haze, do you still see a man?

When he became aware of the posting, the man in question asked her to remove it, and when she refused, he applied to the court in Johannesburg for an order that any statements about him should be prohibited.

The court didn’t go that far but they did order the offending statement to be removed. In his decision the judge said:

“In our law, it is not good enough, as a defence to or a ground of justification for a defamation, that the published words may be true: it must also be to the public benefit or in the public interest that they be published. A distinction must always be kept between what ‘is interesting to the public’ as opposed to ‘what it is in the public interest to make known’.

“The courts do not pander to prurience. I am satisfied that it is neither to the public benefit or in the public interest that the words in respect of which the applicant complains be published, even if it is accepted that they are true”

With thanks to Walkers, Attorneys of Cape Town, for this: http://www.walkers.co.za/

If your business has employees using social media, this contract may be useful – it is designed to minimise legal risks:

 

What You Need to Know about Leasing a Shop

Guest post by Judith Long

Taking on a business lease can be one of the most significant financial commitments that your business will make.  It is important for a tenant to be aware of the key provisions of its business lease so that it can check what the respective rights and obligations of the business and the landlord are and be aware of the procedures to follow in case there is a problem.

What’s in a Shop Lease?

The lease will normally include the following:

  • Details of the premises.
  • The term of the lease – this will usually be 3 or 5 years or a multiple thereof.
  • Whether the lease is renewable at the end of the term.
  • Whether lease can be assigned during the term together with any conditions.
  • Whether part of the premises can be sublet.
  • The amount of the rent, including details of any rent reviews.
  • The amount and the terms of any rent deposit.
  • Whether a personal guarantee is required.
  • Details of any works that will be the landlord’s responsibility during the tenancy.
  • Details of any service or other charges that may be payable to the landlord during the tenancy.
  • Details of any works that will be the tenant’s responsibility during the tenancy.
  • Details of remedial work that will be required at the termination of the lease.
Check your shop lease before signing to avoid nasty surprises later on!

Check your shop lease before signing, to avoid nasty surprises later on

Things to Consider when Leasing a Shop

The matters set out below are the sort of things you may need to think carefully about and to negotiate with the landlord before agreeing to the lease.

a.      Check the length of the lease.  The tenant should know when the term will end and whether it can be terminated earlier by either party.  The right to terminate early is usually referred to as a break clause.  Tenant break clauses are commonly linked to rent reviews so that, if the rent is likely to be unacceptable to the tenant, it can terminate the lease and limit its financial responsibilities.

b.      Check the position on security of tenure.  Business tenants generally have the right to renew their lease at the end of the contractual term (subject to certain exceptions).  Note, however, that the lease can be contracted out of the security of tenure provisions, in which case there will be no right of renewal at the end of the term and the property must be vacated.

c.      If the lease provides for a rent review, consider whether this should be a simple inflation-linked increase or linked to comparable premises in the open market.

d.      Are you required to give a rent deposit or a personal guarantee?  If so, think carefully about the impact on cash flow and personal liability as a guarantor.  Many start-up businesses prefer to take a lease in the name of a company with a cash rent deposit.

e.      If giving a rent deposit, consider whether it should be released if you prove to be a good tenant and your accounts show that your business is on a sound footing.

f.       The lease is likely to contain a number of restrictions in connection with assignment and sub-letting.  These provisions should be carefully considered.

g.      If you intend to carry out work to the premises, it is best to agree these at the outset and document them as part of the initial deal or you may need to obtain landlord’s permission incurring additional costs and delays.

h.      Even if the premises aren’t in a good state of repair at the beginning of the lease, the repair clause might require you to hand them back to the landlord in a good state of repair. Therefore it is wise to ask your landlord for your repairing obligations to be limited to the current state of the premises recorded in a detailed Schedule of Condition supported by photographs.

i.       Find out what your business rates liability will be.  Check whether the premises are separately rated.

j.       If the premises are part of a larger building, check the service charge accounts for at least the previous 3 years and try to negotiate a cap on the service charge for at least part of the term.

k.      Check whether the premises have their own meters and mains supplies or are these located in a part of the building you can’t reach?

l.       Would you require parking facilities or 24-hour access?

Please note that the above are just some of the matters which you need to consider before leasing a shop and this guide is not intended to be exhaustive.  Landlord and tenant law is a complex area of law and specialist legal advice is always recommended before entering into a lease whether you are a landlord or a tenant.

 

About Judith Long

Judith Long, property lawyer

Judith Long, commercial and property lawyer

Judith is a solicitor with her own practice and her specialist skills include all aspects of commercial property law and business law. With nearly 30 years experience in the law, she has worked in industry as well as private practice.

Her practice was formed in 1997 and she provides specialist business legal services to public and private institutions and individuals.  For more information see www.judithmlongsolicitors.co.uk

What You Need to Know About Assigning a Lease

Guest post by Judith Long

If you are renting a business property, you might come to a point where you want to move on. What are your options if you still have a lease running?

 

Does your lease lock you in? Check for lease assignment conditions before you sign.

Does your lease lock you in?

Firstly let’s look at what it means for a tenant to assign a lease:

  • When a tenant sells their interest in a lease, the sale is referred to as an assignment.
  • The seller (the tenant) can sell only the unexpired remainder of the term granted by the lease.
  • The terms of the lease are not open to negotiation by the buyer because the lease is already in existence and the buyer (the assignee) must take it or leave it as it stands.

What Will the Landlord Expect?

The lease that you, as the outgoing tenant, are selling will almost certainly include a clause stating that the landlord’s consent to the assignment will be required.  So do check your lease carefully – assignments are usually dealt with in a specific clause that is variously called ‘alienation’, ‘dealings’ or transfers’.  The consent process will usually involve you entering into a formal licence to assign with the landlord before the assignment can be progressed.

Unsurprisingly, the landlord is likely to require various checks on the proposed new tenant, possibly including some financial assurances or guarantees.  This can be the cause of some delay.

The lease is also likely to require you and your assignee to satisfy other conditions before the assignment is allowed depending on when your lease was granted:

  • If a lease was granted before 1 January 1996, then the law provided that the original tenant remained potentially liable for payment of the rent and to observe and perform the other lease covenants for the whole term even if the lease had been assigned many times.  In such leases, sometimes called ‘old leases’ by lawyers, because the landlord has the comfort of original tenant liability and the potential liability of successive assignees for the duration of the term, the main requirement will be to get landlord’s consent and enter into the licence to assign.
  • Leases granted on or after 1 January 1996 – still sometimes called ‘new leases’ don’t make the original tenant potentially liable for the whole term, because the law was changed from that date.  The law, however, allows landlords to require an assigning tenant to enter into an ‘authorised guarantee agreement’ (usually referred to as an ‘AGA’) under which the outgoing tenant guarantees the obligations of its immediate assignee but not any future assignees.

Any guarantor that you provided when you entered into the lease would also be required to enter into an AGA to underwrite your own AGA obligations.

There may be other conditions to comply with – the most common being getting a direct covenant with the landlord from the assignee (which is given in the licence to assign and will last for the duration of the term) and a requirement for the assignee to provide a third party guarantee also for the remaining duration of the term.

What Will your Buyer, the New Tenant, Expect?

The buyer (the assignee) will also raise enquiries and is likely to want to check at a minimum:

  • The lease terms they will take over.
  • That you are paid up-to-date on rent, service charges and outgoings.
  • That the landlord agrees you are not in breach of the lease.
  • The property title at HM Land Registry.
  • Replies to pre-contract property enquiries.

Your rent deposit will also need to be returned and apportionments worked out if you have paid rent and service charge to the next quarter day.

Please note that this guide is not intended to be exhaustive and specialist legal advice is always recommended before assigning a lease. If you are looking for example Lease Assignments, ContractStore has suitable templates to download, including:

 

About Judith Long

Judith Long, property lawyer

Judith Long, property lawyer

Judith is a solicitor with her own practice and her specialist skills include all aspects of commercial property law and business law. With nearly 30 years experience in the law, she has worked in industry as well as private practice.

Her practice was formed in 1997 and she provides specialist business legal services to public and private institutions and individuals.  For more information see www.judithmlongsolicitors.co.uk

Why Self Builders Need to Put It In Writing

It can be very rewarding to live in a home that you were involved in designing. But before you become a self-builder, it’s good to realise that construction is a complex business.

You not only have to grapple with the planning regulations and the intricacies of design, but there is a lot of work needed to co-ordinate the various suppliers and contractors if the project is not to run into difficulties.

The Self Build Dream can be wonderful but vulnerable to problems

The Self Build Dream can be wonderful – just make sure you avoid legal problems.*

And while a lot of decisions will be made on site to deal with one-off problems as they arise, it is still essential to have the basic arrangements with your architect, suppliers and builders confirmed in writing before you start.

The main reasons for this are:

  • To record the precise scope of work that you are getting for your money, not just a 200m3 building but the design and specifications as well
  • To confirm the price and the payment terms
  • To identify the time frame for the work
  • To provide a framework for dealing with issues that might arise during the life of the contract (changes, unforeseen problems etc.)

You do not need an overly complicated contract – but you do need one that is written by a professional who understands the type of issues that can occur and how they can best be dealt with.

And of all the things that you pay for to achieve your dream home a self-build contract is going to be one of the cheapest and will give you real value for money. High quality

ContractStore sells a range of contract documents for self-builders: click here to find them here.  They are much easier to complete than your new home is going to be!

Best of all, during National Selfbuild Week we are offering a 50% discount on all self-build contracts.

Developed with Self Build Zone, our contract templates are written by expert construction lawyers for the lay person to use – just download and edit in your word processor.

So there is no longer any reason to leave your project – or your finances – vulnerable to legal disputes!

*Photo of Adrian Leaman © Sarah Dixon 2011

Beware the Small Print on Your Website!

When Colin Cochrane showed his girlfriend’s five year old son how his online spread betting account worked, he was in for a nasty surprise.

Online Terms Can Catch You Out

Online Terms Can Catch You Out!

The child had a go on the system while he was out and he got home to find the account £50,000 in the red!

So he contacted the company, Spreadex, only to be told that as far as they were concerned, he was liable for the debt as one of the clauses in the contract said ‘you will be deemed to have authorised all trading under your account number’.

When he failed to pay, Spreadex sued Mr Cochrane. But the judge threw out their claim.

Among other things he ruled that there was no binding contract as there was no commitment on the part of Spreadex and, even if there had been a contract, it was unfair and therefore unenforceable under the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations.

In his judgement the judge commented on the complicated (49 page) and one sided nature of the contract.

So if you have T&Cs on your website, keep them short, fair, and easy to understand.