On-line subscription contracts
May 16, 2012 2:11 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for pointers to draw up a contract for an online subscription-based service. (UK based)

I work for a start-up that offers a particular on-line service to schools, predominantly in the UK. Currently it's in beta form and we don't charge anyone to use it, but that will change very soon, and schools will (touch wood) pay an annual subscription to use our service.

This means we'll need to have a fairly watertight agreement for schools to sign.

What factors should we take into account in drawing up such an agreement?
posted by Ricardus to Law & Government (4 answers total)
Time to get a UK lawyer.
posted by bswinburn at 2:13 PM on May 16, 2012

The biggest factor to take into account is that a contract attorney will save you from a lot of future pain and expense if they are consulted early in the process.
posted by batmonkey at 2:37 PM on May 16, 2012

Yeah, I should have expanded a bit on that. I have done a lot of business contracts and the thing that made me useful is that I have seen a lot of business contracts fall apart. And, above that, I have spent endless hours chatting with other attorneys about problems they have run into.

The problem that I run into is that a lot of time the issues that can end up tearing your business apart are: dead, dead, boring; or boring and depressing because they assume your business IS going to fall apart. People who are building business are generally optimistic people who aren't in that mind set.

Even people inside the business sector you're in often won't have heard about the common problems because no one wants to gossip, for instance, about the time that a 50% dead lock in LLC voting interest stopped a fabric importer from delivering a load in a timely matter due to worries about being paid and spiraled that into unsustainable late delivery charges for promised band uniforms.

An attorney, familiar with the area of law, will protect you against things that no one here (especially an American like myself) will have every thought of because they will have seen it before.

Sorry for answering facilely earlier.
posted by bswinburn at 2:55 PM on May 16, 2012

Response by poster: Getting a lawyer is obviously sensible.

However, I'm presuming a lawyer will still want pretty clear guidance on what we actually want to achieve from our service agreement! I'm told by several lawyers that a lot of their time is taken up trying to unravel the fact that their clients haven't really thought it through properly, and haven't realised the possible consequences of such-and-such an action.

As lawyers' time is expensive, I'd prefer our intentions to be as clear as possible!
posted by Ricardus at 7:20 AM on May 17, 2012

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