Contracts 101 - part 1

on Friday, 16 October 2015.

There are multiple things to think about when you are entering into a contract to buy goods and services on behalf of a business and it can be a pretty daunting process. Although ultimately you must understand and be comfortable with each of the clauses in the contract, it is always helpful to think about the practicialties of what the contract means for your business. Being really clear on these three things is a great starting point:-

  • How do I get out of the contract ? It seems counter intuitivie to think about the end at the beginning but if you can extract yourself easily and cheaply, that can be a significant risk minimisation measure. For example, you should understand whether you can exit before the end of the term and if so , whether there are any penalties for that . Conversely, be really clear on how and whether the service provider can extract itself and whether its exit will leave you high and dry.
  • Does the contract describe in language which is crystal clear exactly what I am buying?.  Be very wary of including language which only an expert in your industry would understand . The language might seem obvious to you, but the ultimate test is what an outsider (a court or judge) would understand the description of the product to mean. Lack of clarity is a significant risk in any contracting arrangements.
  • Price - as for the description , be 100% clear that the pricing in the contract reflects your negotiations and that it is expressed in a way that is beyond dispute . Be clear on any penalties for late payment and of any automatic renewals which may require you to pay for another year of the service if you do not give specified notice.

Counsel on Demand runs training courses for businesses wanting to increase their knowledge in the contracting sphere. Please contact us for more information, or see our Training page.

Metadata retention laws

on Tuesday, 13 October 2015.

New metadata retention laws , by which large telcos such as Telstra and Optus are required to store logs pertaining to emails, phone calls and others, take effect today. The self proclaimed lack of readiness of the telcos for this herculean task has been reported widely in the press. Business and individuals should be aware of the changes and their implications.

Ben Grubb, the technology editor of the Sydney Morning Herald, publishes a great summary of the changes in today’s edition of the paper. You can find it here.

Online drip pricing - Airbnb falls under ACCC scrutiny

on Monday, 12 October 2015.

Online drip pricing - Airbnb falls under ACCC scrutiny

Online pricing practices continue to fall under the scrutiny of the ACCC with Airbnb Ireland and Vacaciones eDreams SL giving court enforceable undertakings to improve their pricing policies and to avoid potential engagement in misleading and deceptive conduct under the Australian Consumer Law.

The ACCC was particularly concerned about 'drip pricing' during the online purchase process for these businesses by which a headline price is advertised at the beginning of the purchase process and additional charges, which may be unavoidable for the consumer, are not made clear until later in the purchase process.

The ACCC chairman, Rodney Sims said ' the law does not prevent traders from charging fees. However it does require that fees are disclosed clearly to avoid consumers being misled'. The ACCC was particularly concerned that compulsory fees, such as a cleaning fee, were not disclosed on relevant search results or key pages during the booking flow.

If you have any questions about price representations for your online products, please contact Counsel on Demand , lawyers for your online business .