In the media there has been controversy over a “shipping company with no ships”, Seaborne Freight (UK) Limited, that has been awarded a £14 million government contract in readiness for Brexit.
Ridicule has been heaped on the company in many publications because of the ‘terms and conditions’ that were published on its website at https://seabornefreight.com/. The terms and conditions that appeared on Seaborne Freight (UK) Ltd’s website stated:
“It is the responsibility of the customer to thoroughly check the supplied goods before agreeing to pay for any meal/order.”
It would appear that at least some of the published terms and conditions have been prepared for reasons other than freight shipping. The words in the excerpt have now been removed, presumably because of all the press attention. One would expect the company to have moved quickly to repair the damage to its corporate image that has resulted but no. As of today (04 January 2019) another section remains which is laid out thus:
“Seaborne Freight (UK) Limited and any
disclose, distribute, incorporate and otherwise use that material and all data, images, sounds, text and other things embodied in it for any and all commercial or non-commercial purposes.”
There is a noticeable gap between the word ‘any’ and the word ‘disclose’ which means the words on either side of that gap do not form a coherent sentence. Whatever editing was carried out by the company since this story hit the news has obviously been clumsy and less than thorough.
As the government are proposing to spend taxpayers’ money with this company the negative reaction has put the transport secretary in a bad light and brought questions as to what sort of due diligence the government carried out before awarding the contract.
A company website is a shop window to the world. Putting up terms of business copied from elsewhere without thought is a cheap shortcut, illustrative of a company whose managers do not care about important things. Also copying terms from elsewhere on the internet without permission is unlawful as it breaches the owner’s copyright. Terms and conditions are intended to create legal relations between the company and a customer. If there is a problem with a customer, how is a Court going to identify the obligations arising out of shipping freight relationship when the terms and conditions refer to food?
This sorry tale provides a stark illustration of how quickly a carefully cultivated business image can fall apart and how it can have a negative effect on customers of that business. For the sake of a modest expenditure, we work with the director(s) to prepare terms of business that fit around the business model. This process also helps the directors to understand how the law interacts with their particular business. After Seaborne Freight UK Ltd the benefits become obvious.
If you want to discuss your own business terms without obligation, please contact Stuart on 01543 440 308 or email on firstname.lastname@example.org.