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Watch out - your "standard" terms and conditions may not be that standard!

Updated: Jan 5, 2021

Most suppliers will include with any credit application or on the back of invoices or delivery dockets a list of standard terms and conditions.

While most customers will not give those standard terms a second glance, they can be of vital importance if the customer doesn’t pay or there is some other dispute about the goods or services delivered.

The supply of goods and services is like any other contractual arrangement, so it is open to the customer to negotiate changes to some or all of the terms.

In a recent case before the District Court, a customer successfully argued their handwritten amendments to a supplier’s standard terms and conditions changed the terms of the supply agreement, reducing their ultimate liability to the supplier. As the supplier did not challenge the handwritten amendments and continued to supply the goods, they were taken to have accepted the customer’s amendments.

Key takeaways

When entering into supply arrangements:

Suppliers should:

  1. Ensure your standard terms and conditions are up to date and adequately protect your interests;

  2. Check any returned credit application for any amendments by the customer and to ensure it has been properly completed;

  3. Be aware that delivery dockets which refer to your terms and conditions do not necessarily bind a customer to those terms and conditions.

Customers should:

  1. Read any standard terms and conditions sent out with a credit application and ensure you understand your obligations; and

  2. Be aware that you have the right to negotiate or seek amendments to a supplier’s standard conditions.

Should you have any concerns regarding your current or future supply contracts and your terms and conditions, please contact our dispute resolution team to discuss your options.

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