... work with general terms and conditions
You are a self-employed entrepreneur or freelance and you regularly conclude contracts for your assignments. You want to do so in a professional way. Moreover, you want to keep it as simple as possible but you also want to put in writing what is necessary. General conditions may be the solution for you. In combination with insurance policies, this is often a good way of limiting your risks as an entrepreneur.
What are general conditions?
General conditions are terms that apply to each contract you conclude. It makes no difference whether that contract is with a business partner or a consumer.
Standardisation and legal foundation
You no longer have to consider for each contract whether you have thought of everything: you have already settled the main legal aspects and thus already have your legal foundation ready. You refer to your general conditions in the contract that you conclude with your customer. In the contract itself you confine yourself to the individual agreements concerning the assignment in question.
Your general conditions let the other party know exactly where he stands. This avoids unnecessary misunderstandings and conflicts about the basic rights and obligations.
Topics that are frequently dealt with in general conditions are:
- The limitation of liability, for example with a financial limit
- Payment, for example payment within two weeks of the date of the invoice and/or payment of a part in advance
- the quote, for example for how long it applies
- the manner of dealing with conflicts
- if applicable, suspended delivery pending full payment, guarantee.
The other party must have been in a position to familiarise himself with your general conditions before concluding the contract. There are various ways to do this. Usually it is done with a hyperlink to your general conditions, or by enclosing a copy of them with your quote. You can also deposit your general conditions with the Chamber of Commerce or the magistrate’s court, but that is not compulsory.
There is no point in putting the general conditions on the invoice, that is too late.
Do not include any unreasonable conditions
If your general conditions contains provisions that are on the legal grey or black list, those provisions will not apply when you conclude a contract with a customer, for instance if you teach or sell to private individuals, or act on behalf of individuals. If you work with business partners, these lists do not concern you, but even then the conditions must not be unreasonable.
Watch out for conflicting general conditions
You and the other party both have general conditions. Which ones apply in this case? This is known as the battle of forms. First assess how important the conflicting provisions are for you both and try to find a solution beforehand. If that does not work, you should seek legal advice.
Drawing up your general conditions yourself
If you want to draw up your general conditions yourself, take a good look at what others do. What have your colleagues included in their general conditions? Are there trade unions or other representative bodies in your profession with standard general conditions that you can use? The Chamber of Commerce has extensive and clear information on drawing up valid general conditions.
Unions and professional associations might be able to help you with standard general conditions.