ATA’s contract checklist for small businesses


Information about new protections for small businesses against unfair terms in standard contracts also released

ATA’s contract checklist for small businesses
ATA chief executive Christopher Melham reminds operators that the new protections for small businesses against unfair terms in standard contracts will come into force on November 12.

 

The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) has released an exclusive contract checklist and supporting information about the new protections for small businesses against unfair terms in standard contracts.

ATA says the checklist responds to lengthy payment terms faced by trucking businesses, as well as concerns that small operators lack the power and information to negotiate balanced contracts with their customers.

It covers contract issues related to:

  • the Heavy Vehicle National Law and WA chain of responsibility (COR) contract requirements
  • pricing and payment terms
  • liability for consequential loss
  • indemnities, limitation and release clauses
  • force majeure and more.

Some small trucking operators find themselves signing whatever is required to get a job, without being able to weigh what the contract could mean for their business, ATA chief executive Christopher Melham says.

"Failing to examine the terms of a contract can lead to businesses taking on risks that should belong to consignors, signing contracts with illegal chain of responsibility stipulations, or accepting payment terms they don’t have the cash flow to support," he says.

"This best practice checklist provides trucking businesses and their legal advisers with information about the contract issues they should consider before they sign."

The new protections for small businesses against unfair terms in standard contracts will come into force on November 12.

The protections will apply to businesses with fewer than 20 employees that agree to standard form contracts where the upfront price does not exceed either $300,000 or $1 million if the contract is for more than 12 months.

"Almost 98 per cent of trucking businesses have fewer than 20 employees, so these protections have the potential to be extremely important for the trucking industry," Melham says.

"The ACCC has published excellent general information about the protections, but this ATA information focuses specifically on the terms that are commonly found in trucking industry contracts.

"The information is essential for any small trucking business that is considering signing a standard form contract, and for larger trucking businesses that are looking to review their standard form contracts to comply with the new requirements."

Unveiled during this year’s Trucking Australia event, the checklist is available through ATA member associations.

The document has been prepared by Brisbane-based law firm Cooper Grace Ward exclusively.

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