How to share general terms and conditions

Your general terms and conditions make the most important rules clear for you and your client. That can save you time and trouble. But make sure you communicate them properly. If you do not, the general terms and conditions will not be valid.

Refer to your general terms and conditions 

If you use general terms and conditions, you must clearly inform your customer of this. You need to take 2 important steps: 

  1. Make sure your client knows there are general terms and conditions.
  2. Make sure your client has had the opportunity to read them. 

You must follow these steps before a company or consumer buys something from you or signs a contract. Only then are the terms and conditions valid. The law does not require that your client has read those terms and conditions for them to be valid. That is their own responsibility.
Does your client not object to the terms and conditions? And they decide to do business with you? Then the terms and conditions apply from that moment on.

An agreement from your customer, such as a signature or a check mark, is not necessary. But such an agreement can be useful if you get into a dispute about the terms and conditions. 

Sharing general terms and conditions

You can share general terms and conditions digitally and on paper. According to the law, the way you may share them depends on how you operate.

If you sell things online, you can put terms and conditions on your website or email them to your customer. If you sell articles in a shop or over the phone, you may only refer to your website or mail the terms and conditions if your customer agrees. Otherwise, you should choose one of the other ways to share them. 

1. Put them on your website

If you put the terms and conditions on your website, customers should also be able to download and save them. For example, offer them as a PDF via a URL such as www.companyname.nl/termsandconditions. 

Link to the terms and conditions from logical places on your site. On product pages, in your offer, and on an order form for example. Many entrepreneurs also include a link at the bottom of digital quotations. By always referring to them, you give clients enough opportunities to read the terms and conditions. 

2. Send via email

Send the client an email containing the general terms and conditions. For example, as a PDF.

3. Send by post

You can also send the terms and conditions by post. Keep in mind that most online customers prefer to receive them digitally.

4. Offer a printed copy

If you are face to face with your customer, for example, in your shop or at the door, you can give them a printed copy of the terms and conditions. You can also do this by printing the terms and conditions on the back of a contract as standard.

5, Have available to read at the place where you sell

You can allow your client to read the general terms and conditions, for instance in your shop or office. In that case, you do not give them a printout. 

Flexible rules

If you are an adviser, broker, IT professional, or have any other role in which you only sell services, the law calls you a 'service provider'. The rules for publishing general terms and conditions are then more relaxed. If your sales are not via the internet, you may still offer your general terms and conditions digitally without your client's consent. For example, by emailing them or with a link to a PDF on your website.

Getting proof of agreement

Although it is not necessary, it can be useful to get proof of your client's agreement to the use of general terms and conditions. In case of a dispute, this agreement makes it clear that the terms and conditions apply. You can do this in several ways. For example:

1. Include a sentence in the contract

The easiest way to ask for agreement is to include a standard sentence in a contract, quotation, or order confirmation. This sentence should make it clear that you are using general terms and conditions. And, that your client agrees to them when doing business with you.

A company or consumer agrees to the general terms and conditions if it accepts or signs a contract, quotation, or order confirmation that includes such a sentence.

2. Signature

You can also have the general terms and conditions signed separately, alongside the contract. Then you have 2 paper documents: a contract and a document with the general terms and conditions, which your client signs.

3. Checkbox on a website

Your client can also agree by checking the box on your website. This ensures that your client knows that terms and conditions apply to that sale. 

Usually, that step is an integral part of the buying process. For example, many online shops ask for agreement in a mandatory box in the online shopping basket, just before the customer pays.

4. Reply via email

You can ask the customer via email to agree to the terms and conditions. You can then use the reply as proof.

5. In a conversation

You can also ask for and receive a verbal agreement, for instance in a telephone conversation. The disadvantage is that you then have no proof. It is therefore wise to confirm the agreement after such a conversation by email, letter, or online form. Then you also have the verbal agreement in black and white.

Filing

To be on the safe side, you can file general terms and conditions with KVK or the court. They will then keep them for you. 

Filing is especially useful if you or your clients think it is important to have proof of which conditions applied at which time. This is useful in case of a dispute or lawsuit in which the general terms and conditions play a role.

Anyone can request and view your general terms and conditions at KVK or the court. Filing them does cost money. Both for your company and for the person viewing them.

Find out more about drafting general terms and conditions.