The Death of Smallprint? Corporate and commercial law

The days of businesses having to cram all of their terms and conditions onto one side of A4 paper are now, thankfully, gone. “Smallprint” used to be literally typeface in as small a print as possible so that more clauses could be fitted on to one page.   Technology has revolutionised the way that we conduct business today. Most businesses now communicate by email, use websites, and many will have their own electronic ordering systems which their customers will access to order goods and services.

What this means is that unless you are tied to using paper because of the nature of your business, you can adopt standard terms and conditions that actually reflect what you do and give you the protection you need relevant to your business.

Do I need terms and conditions of business?

  • Yes! If you are trading, you are entering into contracts with your customers and suppliers. If you don’t have your own terms and conditions of trading, then you may be relying on implied terms such as under the Sale of Goods Act 1979, the Consumer Rights Act 2015 or even worse – your customer’s or supplier’s terms of trade.

Why is that a bad thing?

  • Statutes (laws passed by parliament) are usually drafted to help to protect the weakest party, and this is usually deemed to be the customer. If you are a supplier there are loads of ways to flip that balance of interests in your favour. If you are dealing on your customer’s or supplier’s terms of business, you can bet that they will not be drafted for your protection.

But my customers and suppliers will never deal on my terms!

  • Then that too needs to become part of your risk management process. Do you need their business to the extent that you can afford to carry the risks and consequences of breaching their terms?   Do you even know what these risks are?

How can Thursfields help?

  • If you are dealing with consumers, then there is a raft of legislation that applies to protect your customers. We can help you ensure that your trading is compliant.
  • If you are dealing with business customers we can advise you of ways of commercially limiting your risks and drafting appropriate business terms.
  • If you are a small fish dealing with the big sharks, we can help you to manage your risks by reviewing and reporting to you on what the big shark’s contracts say, identifying what the risks are and whether or not they are relevant to you and helping you with practical ways to manage them.

If you would like any help with your terms of trading, smallprint or advice on how to incorporate your terms and conditions, please contact Jane Rudge on 0121 227 3885 or email

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