Business Basics

New year, new me! Cleaning out your legal drawer

- January 18, 2017 2 MIN READ

We all have that drawer jammed full of papers that we promise to look at tomorrow, ‘to-do’ lists, receipts, and chocolate wrappers.

I see a lot of businesses with a metaphorical ‘legal drawer’ that’s usually a mess.

It’s a common story – business owners jumping into setup mode and getting off and running before they have a strong set of legal documents behind them. Then business takes off and owners just don’t have time to look at dull things like contracts and terms and conditions. How about looking at tidying up that legal drawer this year?

Here’s some ways that you can tighten up your legal position for your day-to-day operation.

Terms and Conditions of Sale
Do you have a refund or exchange policy? A warranty? What are your terms for payment? How do you provide your services? Are customers required to make a deposit when ordering a product or a service? All of these things should be clearly set out in writing for you and your customers to refer to.

Not only will it help shore up your legal rights, sitting down and creating a well-documented set of Terms and Conditions will help you identify gaps in your business. Sometimes when you write these things down from start to finish you can see areas for improvement in your product or service offering, and how you communicate what you sell and how to your customers. It is also a good way to minimise risk of disputes turning ugly or expensive.

having Terms and Conditions governing use of your website is good insurance

Website Terms and Conditions
Again, having the Terms and Conditions governing use of your website is good insurance in the case of a dispute. Your website’s Terms and Conditions can set the ground rules for anyone that uses or looks at your website. It might include important terms about your intellectual property (i.e photos or information about products or other intellectual property you might want to protect) and can even include disclaimers about content on other websites that yours might link to.

Private Policy
If you collect personal information from your customers or visitors to your website, you need to have a Privacy Policy. A Privacy Policy sets out how and why you collect information, how you store it and use it, and how a customer can find out about their own personal information that you have collected.

Don’t get caught out without Terms and Conditions for gift vouchers

Gift Voucher Terms and Conditions
The law says that all the Terms and Conditions of your gift vouchers must be disclosed to your customers upfront. Don’t get caught out without Terms and Conditions for your gift vouchers.

Employment Agreements and Staff Policy
The start of a new year is a great time to work with staff on developing and updating a policy that sets out codes of conduct and other requirements of employment in your business. You can include uniform requirements, obligations to promote a safe workplace and other standards that you expect of your staff for a happy and successful workplace. It’s also wise to make sure that all of the arrangements you have with your staff are properly documented and in line with the relevant legislation and (if applicable) awards.

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