Holmes & Hills Solicitors recently joined the National Association of Shopfitters as the national legal partner. Holmes & Hills has a team of specialist Construction Law solicitors who advise main contractors and sub-contractors on the full range of construction contract and dispute matters. The law firm comprises over 160 legal industry professionals and its Construction Division services construction contractors across the country.
Benefits to NAS Members
Members of the NAS benefit from:
- Free initial consultations for new members and upon renewal
- Preferential legal fees
- Success-linked fee structures
- Direct access to specialist construction solicitors
- Fixed-fee, specialist contract reviews and drafting
- Access to legal guidance notes available on the Association website
- Access to training throughout the year
Holmes & Hills were recently instructed by a NAS member to review the company terms and conditions to protect the business going forward with new projects. The Holmes & Hills team sat down with the NAS member to discuss each provision and the best way to operate those terms.
In reality, you always hope that issues won’t arise on project but if they do, having the comfort of knowing your terms and condition robustly protect the business is critical. Remember, just because you have onerous terms (to protect you) doesn’t mean you have to operate them in such a way that effects the commercial relationships.
A member was owed a £26,000 from a main contractor who alleged that they were not required to make payment as the main contractor had not been paid by the employer (a paid-when-paid argument).
What the main contractor didn’t realise was that paid when paid provision were outlawed by the Construction Act and they had no basis to withhold any sum! Within a week of instructions, Holmes & Hills had recovered the full amount outstanding plus interest and compensation for the client.
Know How: Battle of the Forms
Holmes & Hills are often approached and told “I have my terms and conditions on my quote. Payment terms are X days”. Often, once we have reviewed the documents, it turns out Holmes & Hills’ client actually sent a purchase order that referenced “this order is subject to our terms and conditions available on request”. This is fairly common and the misconception in the industry is that terms must be signed, or you must have been sent them. This is not the case! In this scenario, if you start on site then it is highly likely your conduct amounts to acceptance on their client’s terms and conditions and not yours. In short, the principle of “he who fires the last shot applies” i.e. whose terms were last issued prior to commencement/acceptance.
This highlights why it is so important to have a) terms and conditions; b) to make sure you have those terms and conditions are incorporated.
If your clients insist on a specific contract or terms that should apply, what processes do you have in place to carry out a review swiftly. Even if you can’t amend those terms, having the knowledge of what those terms state allows you operate the contract correctly and, most likely, in a profitable manner.
Contact Holmes & Hills Solicitors
The NAS members can contact Holmes & Hills Solicitors with the following details: