Top Legal Tips for Field Hire Venues on deposits

Top legal tips on deposits for ‘blank canvas’ style field hire venue providers

Field hire  or ‘structure only’ options for wedding venue hire should offer the perfect solution to the couple who really want to stamp their own mark on their ceremony, so what do you as the space owner and occupier need to make sure you cover in your T and Cs on deposits …?

Apart from the usual clauses regarding deposits and cancellation ( you can see some top tips on this in previous blogs) to comply with your customers consumer rights you may need to have some sort of 14 day cancellation period (sometimes called a cooling off period) from the point of the couple agreeing to contract to have the venue, which allows the couple to withdraw without penalty within that time frame. Sometimes venues ask for the deposit to confirming the booking to be made within 14 days of signing the T and Cs, some will take payment on booking and allow a clear cancellation period which states if you cancel within the 14 days the contract is concluded and the couple receive their money back. Either way such a clause is recommended – without it, the periods in which a couple may be entitled to cancel without penalty and have the right to demand back their deposit may be significantly increased. Here’s a good summary of the rules for some bedtime reading. The rules will be different if your couple came to the venue and signed up, rather than concluded a booking online. Be warned and take advice if in doubt.

If you have a customer who challenges the amount of the deposit or the amount you intend to keep if they cancel – make sure your T and C’s have stated why the deposit has been taken – to secure the date exclusively, and to allow you to prep the start of planning and work for the event. Put that explicitly into your Terms. If you don’t have it – we have a lovely new template that helps with this.

Have you additionally included a damages deposit – ideally paid later and closer to the event. It helps massively if this money is accounted separately – not invoiced as income, and held in a separate bank account, unless or until you seek to claim some or all of it. From this account, you can then deduct the costs of breakages or damage – and even the costs of litter and rubbish removal – IF you have spelt this out clearly in your contract (….like our templates do?…….editor)

For help, come and chat to us? Or grab one of our templates and be assured you have covered these issues off in your client contracts.

Our Top Legal Tips for Celebrants

Top tips for you chaps, this week as we have out SPOTLIGHT feature on the celebrants in the Facebook group. What do you REALLY need to make sure you have covered in your Terms and Conditions?

Take care about stating the legality of any celebration or service you perform. This needs to be spelt out to ensure clarity for your couple. DON’T ASSUME ANYTHING….  ensure your couple understand the difference between the legal ceremony and the celebrant’s involvement, and that your contract is clear what you are not legally performing a marriage.

Take care also if you are pulled into advice on this point by the couple once your services are agreed. I don’t suggest you are obstructive, or unhelpful, but be clear about where help and actual legal advice about the process starts and finishes. If in doubt, always refer them to the correct registration services.

Note to anyone doing destination weddings – this is particularly true if the legal framework of a destination may be unfamiliar to you, as well as to the couple. Don’t overstep your remit – if they rely on you, and your advice, your liability clauses better be up to scratch….

I can almost guarantee you are not insured to advise on the process to legally complete the marriage, and of course, you have insurance to deliver your services overseas too – don’t you??

Finally, a little note on GDPR. You are compliant, right? Good privacy policy, opting in to receive marketing materials from you? Client Contract up to date and reviewed since May 2018? If not,

THEN GET ON WITH IT………………!

You are processing not just personal data, but special category personal data (this used to be referred to as sensitive personal data) and the obligations on you are higher and stricter as a result. If you haven’t self-assessed – here’s a good online free tool if you need more help – or a privacy policy – you can pick one up as part of the option three package with our contract templates:

Double bonus!

If you need any more help get in touch with me.

MUA’s and Hairdressers – top legal tips to keep you and your client safe.

Here are our three top legal tips for dealing with allergies and reactions.

Are you a wedding MUA or wedding hairdresser? this is your SPOTLIGHT week by Your Legal Fairy Godmother.

Read on for important tips for your wedding makeup and hair business.

I speak to lots of MUAs and hairdressers who started in salon and have now moved onto mobile and appointment-based services for weddings and other special occasions. Often, they never had T and C’s when they worked in salon or in a shop – so think they don’t need any now. Sorry to burst your bubble, but what happens about products you use with your clients which cause allergies?

It’s not possible to exclude all liability in your contract for causing death or injury with the products you use or the services you supply – there’s legislation (The Unfair Contract Terms Act) and other consumer protections which means that a blanket exclusion of liability is ‘unfair’ in the legal sense and therefore unenforceable, but there are things you can do to better protect yourself.

Firstly – do you have a documented process of the questions you ask your customers about allergies, reactions and such potential hazards? If not, why not. Could you demonstrate with evidence that you had asked the right questions of your client, and had properly and reasonably investigated what potential risks there were? This means asking the question “Are there any allergies or irritants that you have previously reacted to that I should be aware of?” and documenting the response at the time of, or preferably before, the booking is confirmed. Do you do a patch test? If that investigation gives rise to a reasonable belief of a potential risk, have you gained additional evidence that you asked further questions or undertook tests to ascertain if you could really provide the services or goods requested.

Can certain products be avoided? Can you guarantee the absence of certain allergens, if required? Can you show evidence (and it needs to be written – email or otherwise) of what you asked and what you were told?

I’d suggest this is at the point of booking and again at the point of delivery.

Secondly –  do your Terms set out your obligations as clearly as possible – and make it the clients responsibility to inform you of any changes in circumstances or the needs and requirements of any one else they request to receive your services ( bridesmaids, MOTB, MOTG) If not -they need to. If you provide services to under 16’s you will need to show parental consent, preferably in writing to your services being given to a young person who cannot consent for themselves. For those old enough to remember – this is the Gillick ruling which said children over 16 can decide and consent to treatment for themselves. Without consent, you may be guilty of an assault – with a blusher brush….!

Finally, make sure your public liability cover is sufficient for the needs of your business – get your broker to check this. Need a broker? Get in touch.

Take a look at our contractual solutions for MUA’s and Hairdressers on the site here.

Facebook LIVES next week as we launch our group : join us?

We have a sparkly new FB group for you to join, and our LAUNCHING EVENTS are next week. These are going to be about Contact Basics – the Why? the When? and the How?

Monday 23rd September at 6.30pm we are looking at WHY it is essential to have T and C’s – a client contract. The key reasons you can’t afford not to….

Wednesday 25th September at 6.30pm we are looking at WHEN you might use one? When does a wedding business start to need one? When do you produce your Terms to your clients?

Thursday 26th September at 6.30pm we will tell you about some solutions, giving you an honest appraisal of the price points for them, where to look and where you can access a variety of options – not just ours.

Join the group here and come and join us for these LIVES.

We are Your Legal Fairy Godmother, after all….

YouTube sensation …. legal advice videos for wedding suppliers

Yes – you heard it here first.

Stanford Gould Group have a new YouTube channel and you can subscribe to see our videos dealing with all sorts of legal and contractual issues for wedding suppliers.

So, what content is there already available on this channel?

We have posted some videos about our favourite subject, GDPR of course, and there’s plenty of reading materials on this blog too – and there’s a video to view about why you need a client contract – also you can read this blog.

If you have a client contract – do you use it right? Otherwise it becomes a useless expensive piece of paper – or in this day and age more likely a PDF attachment you never use. There’s a video on the You Tube channel to view about that too.

Do you work in collaboration with other suppliers – do you know what your contractual rights and obligations are in those arrangements. There are 4 videos to watch about working collaboratively – so maybe viewing them is your homework for the week.

We would love some feedback from you on the channel and if you have a request for a video topic – let us know?

Wedding suppliers :Working on the business, not in the business

This week I’ve taken a holiday. Its August. The sun was (!!) shining. The pace has dropped. The demands are lessened. But I’m still working. You hear the phrase ‘working on the business’ regularly, but I’m not sure wedding suppliers really know and understand what that is, and how important it can be when you work alone.

Working on the business – so, what is it? Coaches and mentors use this expression a lot, and it can be hi -viz on social media too. For me, its about turning on the ‘out of office’ and stopping the distractions of email and telephone calls (and social media posting too!!) and spending some time thinking, writing, dreaming about what you do. What works well ? What could be better? What do you loath and detest? Note down some positives, draw and design (for me, visuals are everything, so scribbling and doodling really work well) identify some changes you need to make, and then create a plan to deal with SOME, not all, of these musings.

…whilst consuming large quantities of caffeine…

I say this because ‘thinking’…and I mean properly applying your mind to a question without spinning all the other usual plates you have on the go….(easy said than…..editor) can generate an awful lot of activity and the last thing you need after the thought process is paralysis in actioning any of it.

Chose one thing to change and do it. That might be the easiest thing, or it might be the biggest thing, but just chose something and make a change.

If you are really struggling to see the wood from the trees, I recommend having a chat with a great coach or mentor, ( I know a few!) maybe someone from your sector, or some other business owner who ‘gets it’ and can help you through the thinking, to some actions. There are also some great books and planning journals if you like that sort of thing – see this earlier blog for inspiration.

So for SGOL, I have been working on new templates for new suppliers…new icons and logos for the website and new packages and prices to help more of you lovely lot get organised contractually – bookmark our page and then watch this space for September…

Happy contemplating, people.

Legal advice for cake makers and bakers – cancellations

Wedding Cake Makers and Bakers : Creating a personalised product? what you need to know about cancellations…

You can create the most beautiful ‘to order’ and often specifically personalised baked goods: gorgeous ‘eatables’ that extract ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ from their reception and party guests, but are you clear about what happens if your client changes their mind?

If you create bespoke goods in the wedding industry what are the rights of your customers to cancel their order once placed? Is there any right to cancel? And if so, how does affect your business?

Most of your customers will be consumers and thus have certain rights to cancel a contract for goods or services, within some time limits. However, if they are purchasing personalised goods, then this right is significantly curtailed, and only if the goods are faulty does a right to cancel then arise. Your contract should be clear about this and inform your customer of this more limited right to cancel personalised orders.

Clearly this is because there’s not a lot you can do with a Bear Grylls inspired Amazon River Crossing themed cake that you created because ‘that’s where they got engaged’….

Do your T and C’s cover this situation?

Be careful if you also offer non-personalised items, such as cupcakes or other more standard cake and pudding menu items, as they will still be capable of cancellation in some circumstances – in particular if they have purchased on line or ‘at distance’. The time periods are tight and other obligations need to be satisfied but there is a difference.

Contact us for more advice if you are in a dilemma about your rights and those of your customers…

…and with very grateful thanks to Nat of Ruby Lous Cakes for the fab cakey image…..feeling peckish now….

Image courtesy of www.photosbylanty.co.uk

Legal Advice for Florists – ‘last minute’ cancellations

Legal Advice for Florists – last minute cancellations. This month I’ve had a series of enquiries from florists who have been properly shafted by unexpected ‘last minute’ cancellations.

Or at the very least , relatively late in the day. No warning signs. After all the design work, ideas, creative input and suggestions, but before the florist actually purchased the blooms.

‘Value’ provided in spades, but lost booking, lost payments, lost income and lost opportunity.

Where do you stand?

  • I’m afraid again the starting point is your contract. Your Terms and Conditions. What do they say about cancellation and payments? The two sections of your Terms that deal with payments and cancellations should correlate.  They don’t? You better have a look at this solution

Don’t be left in a position where your contract terms entitle you to additional payments from a client who has cancelled their contract. You will most probably struggle to extract any spondoolies …  Usually the deposit payment is lost – but even this can be challenged if that is not writing!

So, if you do nothing else after reading this blog, make that deposit non-refundable. That’s great, simple advice for such ‘last minute’ cancellation situations.

Florists can look at some additional tips about deposits in other SGOL blogs too…

  • Next – how close to the date is it? What payments or cancellation fees are due? AGAIN, this really must be in writing to be enforceable.

(You sure you don’t need one of these…….? Editor)

What are your chances of filling this date with another event or function? Hopefully you have payment provisions that allow you to get paid well in advance of incurring the fees of actually purchasing flowers for an event – if not – why not!

This is a massive risk if a florist starts to order stock without making sure you have the money from the client.

  • The third problem is where a client gets ‘stroppy’ (Midlander’s expression – hope it translates…Editor) with you – and this is where many of my enquiries have started…because you are no longer providing the flowers, and the client thinks they should be entitled to some money back.

Is your floristry contract clear about the fees that are payable in a cancellation situation, even if you haven’t actually yet provided all or any of the goods and services? If not, you may be restricted to only your actual loss if someone cancels; that’s the loss of profit not the loss of income. Two very different prospects.

If you are unsure if your terms cover these situations – get a fixed price review with Stanford Gould and I can advise you if your T and C’s need some firming up. Or get a fresh set here for the fixed price of £225.00 – it’s got to be worth that for your piece of mind.

12 months on – consent, client lists and GDPR

Having recently wished ‘Happy Birthday’ to the delightful piece of legislation that we know and love as GDPR, its worth having a think about what’s changed and what’s still ‘work in progress’. What about consent, client lists and GDPR. 12 months on.

You may have joined the throngs of organisations in that tsunami of email that went out to all contacts and clients on databases asking for consent to remain on your mailing list. Did you end up with a decimated client contact list? Have you started again? With the tick box righteously checked to ensure you have a basis for processing. Consent, client lists and GDPR were the buzz words of summer 2018.

Did you know that’s not the only basis for using (processing) that client information?

If the folk on your client database pre GDPR gave consent under the old rules – which did not require  ‘opt in’ or active consent to receive your materials – you can still rely on this consent as a basis for processing.

The ICO themselves say…

You do not need to automatically refresh all existing consents in preparation for the new law. But the GDPR sets the bar high for consent, so it’s important to check your processes and records to be sure existing consents meet the GDPR standard. If they do there is no need to obtain fresh consent.

Where you have an existing relationship with customers who have purchased goods or services from you it may not be necessary to obtain fresh consent.

It’s also important to remember that in some cases it may not be appropriate to seek fresh consent if you are unsure how you collected the contact information in the first place, and the consent would not have met the standard under our existing Data Protection Act.

Think about how you created the client list in the first place. Did you work for them? Did they sign up to receive material from you – albeit maybe without a tick box.  If people ‘signed up’ to receive newsletters or updates from you pre May 2018, and did so in compliance with the pre GDPR legislation requirements,  you may still have a legitimate reason to keep them on your data base and process their data, post GDPR implementation,

SO LONG AS you always give them the unsubscribe option when communicating with them

AND you make that as simple (one click) as possible

AND you action the ‘unsubscribe’ promptly.

Take a look at this great blog from the ICO to help you

I’m sure you have had the experience of the email that you click to unsubscribe, but that just keep coming ‘right back atcha’ – that’s ICO territory for complaint if ever there was any! – so make sure you have a good admin process if you do decide to use such data. Evidence your thinking and justify your action.

What else to report?

Well in 12 months, the ICO haven’t issued a single fine under GDPR in the UK yet….. but they have logged a fourfold increase in data breaches, and twice as many consumer complaints were made to the ICO in the last 12 months.

Your customers are live to the issues…BE CAREFUL!

But that was the ICO’s stated objective for the first year or so after implementation, saying they were only interested in compliance – especially for small businesses.

So, by now you should have a GDPR complaint website with a proper Privacy Policy and a compliant ‘Contact us’ page – if not where have you been? In a hole for 12 months? Go check THIS helpful tool out…..

You should also have reviewed and amended your client T and C’s to reference your Privacy Policy and remind clients what you are doing with their personal data.

Have you taken the online test to see if you need to register with ICO and pay a fee? Get that done asap…..here.

There are also new tools and tips on the ICO page regularly so do check them out too and keep an eye on our blog for regular updates.

Legal advice for wedding suppliers – a training offer with a contract template thrown in…

Wedding suppliers who need legal advice on your terms and conditions?

Get in touch if you are a wedding supplier and need legal advice about your contract and a template sorting – in under an hour you will receive training and get a contract template completed and be good to go

Planners, photographers, stylists and hirers, florists, cake bakers and makers, stationary printers and designers click here

or email us heather@stanfordgouldonline.co.uk