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

Advice on partnerships : avoiding the pitfalls

In our last blog we talked about the difference between a limited company and a sole trader – and that provoked quite a response! If you missed it – catch it here. Today we look at problematic advice on partnerships and some of the pitfalls to avoid.

Partnerships are a very old concept and defined very loosely as ‘persons carrying on a business in common with a view of profit’ and only excludes those in an incorporated body (a limited company set up) or a group created by statute or Royal Charter (no, not you guys!) so covers everyone who is working jointly with someone else – and this is important – even if they didn’t intend to actually create a partnership.

So, you can create a partnership by accident (how weird is that…) without intention and indeed even if you have tried to avoid such a thing, and once created, partnerships can only be regulated in one of two ways:

  • By a contract in writing – you have a Partnership Agreement that sets out how the partnership works and such matters as termination, dissolution, adding new partners, how you run the accounting processes etc. It can include restrictions on what partners can do as part of or as well as their work for the partnership, and after departure.  They often run to many pages and can have complex structures dealing with departure of existing partners and additions of new partners in particular.
  • In the absence of a contract in writing, or if your Partnership Agreement is silent on any aspect, then there’s some really bad news – you are subject to the Partnership Act 1890 – a comprehensive piece of legislation that imposes all sorts of rights and obligations on partners whether you like it or not. Given this Act was passed in the 19th Century you can imagine how clunky and very ‘not fit for purpose’ this is in the modern age. Pitfall to be avoided!!!!!

You will see often in contracts with freelancers or associates a clause that states specifically that no partnership is being created between the parties who would otherwise satisfy the very wide definition of a partnership – that’s why its there. You do not want to be in partnership with your freelancer assistants usually – and neither do they wish to be in that arrangement with you. Its important this clause features large in your freelancer contracts.

If you do need to go into business with other people, usually the simpler and cleaner way to do this is by shares in a limited company – far more flexibility and much easier to create and regulate what you do.

Here’s useful link about the minimum requirements for a partnership and how to run it, name it and adhere to your obligations.

Take advice. To get your FREE fact sheet on the difference between Limited Companies Partnerships and Sole Traders – just get in touch at enquiries@stanfordgouldonline.co.uk with email header FACT SHEET and we will send that to you pronto. And we promise to be good to our GDPR word and not surreptitiously add you to a data base for future marketing…. cos that’s how we roll.

Limited company or sole trader – what’s the difference? and what’s the best option for me?

What IS the difference? and does it matter?

In short – yes it does matter.
Its still quite surprising how many small businesses use phrases like ‘our company’ and ‘we’re in partnership’ and ‘MD’ when describing their business, or their roles in their business, often erroneously and potentially dangerously.

Lets get some things straight first.

A limited company is one registered at Companies House and which is owned and controlled by Directors and Shareholders. It has rights and responsibilities of its own – which are not the same as the rights and responsibilities of the Directors or Shareholders within it. A limited company is a separate legal ‘person’ ( that means it exists legally independent from any individual – even if there is only one shareholder/director) from its owners or controllers, and should have its own bank account, tax identity and be a party to its contracts. Sometimes Directors and Shareholders are one and the same but they don’t have to be . Not all companies have shares – some can be limited by guarantee. But for most companies its a leadership of directors and an ownership of shareholders – in very simple terms.

An unincorporated business can ether be a sole trader – a self employed person working alone – or sometimes two or a group of people working together – we’ll be looking at this in later blogs. Either way you should not refer to your business as a company, or you as a director of the company, if you are not an incorporated body.

Do you identify what your business is correctly? A limited company must state its full title and its company number on all its public correspondence – for example your website and your email footer, your Terms and Conditions, your contracts with your suppliers, your bank account – so that customers know who they are dealing with. You CANNOT use any name you want – there are some restrictions about what you can call your self so check what’s prohibited or restricted. If you have a trading name that needs to be stated as well. Here’s a helpful link if you need advice about this.

To get your FREE fact sheet on the difference between Limited Companies Partnerships and Sole Traders – just get in touch at enquiries@stanfordgouldonline.co.uk

with email header FACT SHEET and we will send that to you pronto. And we promise to be good to our GDPR word and not surreptitiously add you to a data base for future marketing…. cos that’s how we roll.

Next week…… some pros and cons……

Who’s to blame for a spelling mitsake? Wedding bespoke print and stationery providers – are your Terms clear?

Who’s to blame for a spelling mitsake? Wedding bespoke print and stationery providers – are your Terms clear?

As its World Stationery Day today we are concentrating on those fabulous creatives who use the printed word to make beautiful goods and stationery for the wedding sector.

But what happens if the proverbial hits… and you get a spelling error, or a detail wrong? Who is responsible in this situation and how can it be resolved?

The first port of call is your client contract – your Terms and Conditions. Are they clear about proof reading, mock up and sign off, and who must undertake this? Are they clear about who must sign off any proposed printing? Can one of the couple approve on behalf of both? Or do you require a second ‘yes’?

Secondly – are your Terms clear about absolving you of liability in the event of a mistake where the error has been correctly signed off? What do your Terms say about what happens next in this situation? These things DO happen so what’s the clear position in your Terms about what you do in that situation – or perhaps more importantly what you do NOT have to do (another print run? for example)

They really need to be. If your Terms aren’t specific about proof reading and signing off the printed goods you produce – get them reviewed – here’s our option if you need help with this.

Secondly – take a look at your processes. How do you get the proof approved? By email? In person? Do you have an evidence trail of what you sent or produced and what version of the bespoke printed goods was approved? Do you have an evidence trail of the approval from the client? Could you prove to a court (that’s ‘on the balance of probabilities’ – or in simple terms ‘its more likely than not’) that they saw the error and yet still approved it? If not, you need to look carefully at your processes for sign off by your client as well as your contractual terms. One without the other isn’t much help to you.

If the terms are clear that the customer must sign off and you have evidence this was done, then any costs associated with a reprint (including expedited costs, if necessary) can be properly left to the customer to pay. If your Terms are silent, or inadequate, you could end up on the end of that printing bill to put right the mistake you made.

If you need any help with these issues – get in touch? We’d love to hear your story of a spelling error that went unnoticed….anonymised obviously!

Reviewing your situation this Easter – your T&Cs

Easter break – are you enjoying the sunshine, taking some well-deserved R ‘n’ R from your business? Are you comatose from all those eggs yet? Promising yourself a new improved diet regime this week?

Perhaps you are thinking about that ‘to do’ list you made in January – did that include creating or reviewing your T&Cs?

It can be one of those jobs, can’t it? See what one of our clients said about this recently:

“To be honest, updating the T&Cs for my consultancy business wasn’t exactly the most exciting thing on my to-do list. It was easy to ignore and put off. But as more and more large brands came on board to work with me I realised I needed to get my T&Cs into shape to protect both my business and my clients”

Sound familiar? You got better things to do, surely…. But do you have more essential things to do than make sure your business is protected and your risks are managed?

We can help. You can read the rest of Emma’s testimonial, and others like hers, here but she said:

Now, knowing how simple it was, I just wish I had done it sooner.

Heather makes the whole process so straightforward. Her down-to-earth approach is approachable and supportive. She understands the needs and requirements of small businesses and is intuitive in her recommendations. She worked quickly and put in extra time to meet an ambitious deadline I had given her helping me run my business more efficiently. I would absolutely recommend her expert services to anyone wanting to be smarter about how they run their small business.”

Emma Drury-Jones, Owner of At Her Table

If so, we have a great offer for you available until 17th May 2019.

A full review of your current T&Cs for a fixed fee of £150.00.

You will receive:

  • A full review by email of what you have.
  • Advice on where they have weaknesses and/or gaps, and whether they are fit for purpose.
  • No obligation options to improve them

either by purchasing a template from one of our specially created options for wedding suppliers for just £225.00 with the BONUS of a FREE 30 minute telephone call to help you complete the template, or fire us some general legal and contracts Q and A’s.

or providing a bespoke contract created with your specific business delivery in mind for the fixed price of just £400.00 (our usual prices start at £425.00) by Stanford Gould Limited.

For more information email us to take advantage of this offer.

(Terms and conditions apply – well of course they do! It’s us!)

COMPETITION TIME – win free tickets

COMPETITION TIME – would you like a free ticket to attend THE wedding festival event of the season? The Unconventional Wedding Festival on 11th and 12th May at Stanford Hall Lutterworth. You wanna come?

Our fabulous friends at Unconventional Weddings and Events have agreed we can offer this fabulous prize to anyone liking our Facebook page AND who like and share through Facebook any of the blog posts on Wedding Fairs and GDPR that we have posted in the last weeks.

https://www.stanfordgouldonline.co.uk/blog/

Entries start now: and includes anyone who already likes the Stanford Gould Facebook page, but you will ALSO need to share and like the blog to qualify.

Two winners will be picked on Friday 12th April 2019 to receive a ticket for the Unconventional Festival. We have one for Saturday and one for Sunday so if you comment on the shared post with your preferred date, we will try to accommodate you.
Terms and Conditions apply (well of course they do….this is a Stanford Gould competition…) and are available on request.

Good Luck x

Exhibitor at a Wedding Fair? get GDPR savvy – Part 3 : The Aftermath.

The Aftermath of the Wedding Fair – hopefully you feel good!

It was time and money well spent. A positive and productive day at the Wedding Fair. You came back with leads and you converted some of them, (all of them? I need an emoji here, but WordPress or my IT skills don’t allow….)

having chatted and previewed and showed off what you do, what you know and what you make. They were impressed. In the aftermath they become a client or customer.

Yay!

Whats next?

If they want to become a client, make sure you get T and C’s or a client contract to them as you set out the proposed works and prices, as part of the contractual basis for delivering your goods and services to them. In your terms, you should remind them of your privacy policy and the basis for processing and retaining their data is – get this added to your T and C’s now.

It’s called layering – telling the client at lots of different points in the customer experience what you are doing with their data and reminding them of their rights, and their options.

If you need help with your T and C’s try our templates…. www.stanfordgouldonline.co.uk

If you need a privacy policy have a look at the template in our GDPR Starter Pack or on the ICO website.

Anyone who is on your data base legitimately – either having given a clear consent since May 2018 – or (…and this is important) who consented under the previous regime which required very little to evidence this agreement, can continue to receive your mail chimp or other emails or electronic communications and sales info. Please ensure there is a clear opt out or unsubscribe option for them,  that is easy to use and doesn’t involve multiple tasks or clicks.

Its a good idea to annual check that the contact details you have for your Mailing List or Subscribers are still valid and up to date – your obligation to ensure data is accurate – and that they still want to receive material from you. You don’t need ANOTHER tick box checked, or positive consent reply to this – its just good housekeeping. It should not decimate your mailing list each time!

Any questions about GDPR, contracts or legal issues generally we would be happy to help. You can find us at

www.stanfordgould.co.uk 

www.stanfordgouldonline.co.uk

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Twitter                 @stanford_gould 

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