July 22, 2019
Love it or hate it, paperwork is a necessity for effective business management. Many a deal is done on a handshake or a casual exchange of emails or text messages. Experience has illustrated the need to have accurate and complete documentation to set out what your business commitments are and, just as importantly, the commitments other businesses have made to you.
Why not make a virtue out of a necessity and challenge your organisation to deliver the gold standard when it comes to your documentation? After all, being on top of your documentation gives confidence to others, shows that you know what you’re doing and provides assurance to your customers and stakeholders.
But what are the benefits of falling back in love with paperwork for your business?
- Good governance – make sure your Articles of Association are accurate and current and legally compliant. Check them regularly to make sure they still reflect how your business operates.
- Avoid fines and penalties – make sure you submit annual documents to Companies House, HMRC etc. on time and keep an archive of these over time in case you need to produce them.
- Help secure new contracts – make sure you’ve got accurate and up to date documentation when you’re tendering for new work – this also creates a reassuring and credible impression.
- Protect your reputation – there’s never been a greater level of scrutiny into how businesses operate, to ensure that they are ethical and responsible with good governance standards.
It is impossible to anticipate the multitude of risks that might arise in everyday business life. Hopefully, you won’t ever have a serious dispute. However, if you do, it’s so important in litigation to have access to full and clear documentation to help win your case.
If taken to the extreme, an overly burdensome approach to documenting your dealings with other businesses could see your own business quickly grind to a halt! But taking time, for example, to put a proper contract in place at the start could pay dividends if something goes awry later. Setting out expectations, timescales, costs and ensuring everyone knows what they have signed up to deliver reduces the likelihood of disputes arising down the line. If a dispute does arise, having a contract could help to resolve it more quickly.
By all means, keep it simple, but here are our recommendations of the key points you need to make sure you include:
- Detail the full scope of the products or work, including all the elements that are to be delivered, by whom and when;
- How much is going to be paid, when and what triggers payments, including any required methods of payment and how long to allow for payment to take place;
- What will happen if either party doesn’t honour its side of the bargain, for example, part of the products or services aren’t delivered by an agreed due date or there is some fault or error with it; and
- What will happen if either party wants to end the contract and when and how that will happen.
If there is a particular requirement you want to be able to enforce, you need to make sure it is clearly set out and agreed to.
It can seem like overkill, but in all likelihood having a clear, simple contract agreed upfront and keeping well-organised records will protect both you and your business.
Hopefully, you won’t need to take any legal action, but because you’ve now come to love your paperwork, if you do find yourself in a dispute you’ll have all the relevant documentation to hand to prove your position.
Need a hand with paperwork and commercial litigation?
If you need to contact a commercial litigation specialist, Prosperity Law is here to help. Call us today on 0161 667 3697 for more information about how we can assist you with any issues you may be facing or want to avoid in the future.