HAE has teamed up with Boardroom Matters Ltd to give members access to first-class legal advice and support. The helpline gives members a free 30-minute consultation on anything concerning hire and commercial contract law.
The team can:
The team are able to help members with legal problems from commercial dealings around terms and conditions, breach of contracts, damaged goods, and other issues concerning contractual law.
To find out more contact the HAE Membership Team on 0121 380 4600 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Not yet a member, but would like to benefit from using the HAE Legal Helpline? Find out how to join HAE by clicking here.
HAE EHA has extended its services for protecting members with a new dedicated contract law legal helpline. This gateway to legal advice initially provides members with a free 30-minute consultation on anything concerning hire and contract law.
This is not to be confused with HAE EHA's BusinessGuard's Human Resources (HR) helpline, which is a separate service for HR and certain other affiliated issues. The contract law legal helpline launched earlier this year and covers a multitude of legal issues that members are involved in but perhaps struggle to understand the legal obligations of, for example the interpretation of Terms and Conditions (T&Cs).
Set up in collaboration with Boardroom Matters Ltd, the new helpline can offer guidance on a plethora of issues such as standard T&Cs for the hire and sales of goods. Hopefully, most members will know that the law relating to consumers and businesses can be interpreted differently primarily due to cooling off periods that are afforded to the former but not to the latter.
The Tricky Business of T&Cs
However, it's a far more complicated picture than that. In the event of a dispute members need to demonstrate that the customer knew of their T&Cs and had actually seen or had their attention drawn to them before any contract was entered into.
This can cause immense difficulties when distant selling like agreeing a vehicle hire over the telephone, working through an exchange of emails or even using traditional post. If a HAE EHA member cannot prove that their T&Cs have actually been shown to the consumer or customer it may well be that they cannot be enforced and this means that a hirer could impose their own purchasing T&Cs which are always going to be less favourable than those developed for members by HAE EHA.
The HAE EHA contract legal helpline aims to help members sidestep legal minefields and provide succinct but precise guidance in terms of how things should be interpreted. It should be noted that ultimately the aim of the contract legal helpline is to help members avoid taking issues to court if possible, saving them from potentially being out of pocket while keeping on the right side of the law.
Court representation is incredibly expensive and time consuming. If the legal dispute amounts to a few thousand pounds, recovery of that money could be more expensive for the member than the actual debt. Whilst members may be able to recover back some of the costs if they win, there is always the risk of losing and also picking up the legal tab of the other side.
Cost of Going to Court
This is compounded by the rules governing the Small Claims Court which generally (unless the judge is feeling benevolent) does not allow the recovery of legal costs relating to preparing for the hearing, let alone actual court representation. Whilst the small claims route is a streamlined way of handling cases below £10,000 in value, because of its special status, the successful litigant will get a fixed legal recovery contribution of typically £80 in a small claims case, which is not enough to cover even the most frugal of lawyers' fees!
There are various other costs that the winning party can claim as reimbursements for certain disbursements such as the issue fee, the hearing fee, the expert's fee, miscellaneous costs for attending a hearing, loss of earnings for a witness or party and travel expenses. But again, on the flipside if you lose you could be the one liable for all those costs comprising your own and those of the defendant. The damage to reputation can also be significant, especially if the losing party is ordered to remedy the disputed situation.
That's why making initial contact with the HAE EHA contract legal helpline can guide members through the maze of potential difficulties when considering court action. Boardroom Matters has been helping businesses deal with issues for a number of years and the legal helpline has already been used by HAE EHA members fighting or preparing cases for the UK courts.
Recent Examples of Help Provided to Members
Through the contract helpline, Boardroom Matters has provided legal guidance on whether an emailed proforma invoice is legally binding and given advice concerning contractual renewal. It has also guided a member concerning a customer that hired a dumper truck which was subsequently stolen. Legal guidance has been provided on service level agreements, contract enforcement, data sharing and wedding deposits to name but a few of the recent calls handled.
The service is free for the first 30 minutes as part of HAE EHA membership and is purely for contract law. Members can then buy further 30-minute units (at £80 per half hour) and, if necessary, the legal helpline can also team members up with a solicitor or barrister who will represent them at any legal hearing or for court representation.
The overall aim by HAE EHA is to provide members with a cost-effective legal solution where they can, if they wish, keep costs down by handling the correspondence and County Court claims themselves. For more complex cases requiring court representation, support is available from as little as £275 per hour. However, depending on the case complexity, a lawyer will provide a detailed quotation in advance, based on the requirements of the case.
The dedicated telephone number will be answered by the HAE EHA legal team on business days, apart from holiday periods. As mentioned, this helpline is to assist members with legal problems from commercial dealings around terms and conditions, breach of contracts, damaged goods and other issues concerning contractual law.
Legal support for the paperwork
Run by Boardroom Matters, following the free half hour consultation, the service also allows members to buy further support to assist with legal actions like letter writing, drafting legal documents and data protection support in addition to providing general guidance.
Managing Director Paul Gaze says: "We are pleased to have teamed up with Boardroom Matters to provide further support for the membership by giving them a direct hot line to legal advice when contracts and the like have gone wrong."
There are also plans for later in the year to run a number of seminars around the correct course of action when in dispute with a customer, whether a consumer or a business. One is likely to be on the tricky matter of which T&Cs take precedence where a person or a supplier has raised a purchase order with a member. All will be revealed at these training sessions which will most likely take the form of webinars. Other informative sessions on a range of legal matters are also planned.