I am sure that many of you will have heard about the procurement contract that was awarded to Seaborne Freight (it was reported that Seaborne Freight was a startup company that was hired to operate extra ferries despite having no ships to do so). 

It has now been reported that the terms and conditions on the website appear to be intended for a food delivery business and number of politicians have commented that this appears to have been copied and pasted from a takeaway fast food website.

Examples of problematic terms include:

"it is the responsibility of the customer to thoroughly check the supplied goods before agreeing to pay for any meal/order,”

 “Delivery charges are calculated per order and based on [delivery details here].”

“Users are prohibited from making false orders through our website.”

As commercial lawyers responsible for drafting these types of documents, we know that a small minority of businesses do not understand the value of bespoke terms when seemingly 'good examples' are available on the Internet. Often we see similar terms appearing on multiple websites. This approach presents a number of unnecessary risks to the business:

  • potential copyright infringement
  • inaccurate terms which do not protect the business in the way in which they ought to.
  • Terms which can sometimes afford rights or commit the business to obligations or indemnities.
  • Outdated terms that haven't been legally reviewed may even breach the law - particularly after a new law affecting that industry or sector is introduced.
  • Assumption that the other company has had their terms professionally drafted.

When done properly, terms can offer a sophisticated level of protection and provide clarity for both the business and its customers. This in itself often negates the requirement for legal intervention further down the line.