042 – How to Engage with Your Clients

In Show 042 – How to Engage with Your Clients originally broadcast on Facebook Live on Wednesday 13 December 2017 we explore this interesting topic.

Show Notes

Today we are going to talk about the best ways to engage with your clients and the risks of unfair contracts.    One of the big contracts many companies have to get right is the application form.  These are typically used when your business is providing credit.  It includes your details and the details of the client.  The agreement must be properly defined to be useful.  You need to protect yourself from lack of payment and that’s where the application form is so important.  It can be very tempting to keep your costs low by just copying another businesses application form.  Taking the time to hire a lawyer that can craft a useful application form can save you a massive headache in the future.

Another important document that you have to get right is an engagement letter.  This details the terms of service with a new client.  You have to ensure that you are engaging with the client you are actually working for – not a separate legal entity.  This is important because in the event of missed payments you will have an agreement that is legally binding.  This agreement can include terms and conditions, credit applications and a clear understanding of when invoices have to be paid.  Getting the terms and conditions right is critical when creating a contract.  If those terms and conditions are not properly defined the contract can end up being useless.  Business owners often don’t realize how important it is to get this right.  If you don’t you may not be able to enforce the contract when you need to.

Unfair contract terms are another big mistake business owners often make.  If you create a contract that a judge will later find to unfair can render that contract utterly useless.  The case law has been shifting on this question recently.  There are some examples on the ACCC website about what could be considered unfair.  Contracts that automatically renew unless they are cancelled six months before are a good example of an unfair contract.  JJ Richards recently fell afoul of exactly this kind of contract.  The Ashley and Martin decision is another example of an unfair contract that was declared null and void by the courts.  You can try and be clever with a sneaky provision in a contract but you risk having the entire thing thrown out by the court in the event of a lawsuit.

Personal guarantees are an important part of engaging with a client.  They can detail guarantees about debt or supplies.  It can be easy to lose track of all the guarantees you’ve made so you need to be comprehensive about them.

Privacy notices are increasingly common in documents like credit applications.  How you are collecting and storing that information is really important.  You need to keep getting advice on the latest requirements in privacy law.  This part of the law is always changing and you need to be extremely cautious with your client’s personal information.

More about this Show

We started Business Legal Lifecycle to create a simple way for you to understand complex legal terms.  Most importantly we want to help you to develop a plan to take your business successfully into the future.  There’s a startling statistic the underscores the importance of developing a solid plan.  The majority of business owners are just seven months away from losing everything.  A single aspect of your business that is not set-up correctly can shut down your whole operation very quickly.   Legal advice is not cheap and even when you can afford it there is often a divide between lawyers and their clients.  We want to close that gap once and for all.  We want to put legal knowledge and tools into your hand to prevent the worst from happening to you.

Twice a week we are going to deliver those tools right to your home or office with Business Legal Lifecycle TV.  We’ll start the week with Fast Fix Monday, a short 5-10 minute video that will tackle a single issue that businesses have to deal with.  Then on Wednesday’s our main show will feature with more fulsome discussions and interviews all delivered in a straightforward and easy to understand format.

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