Before entering into a contract to provide tree surgery services, tree surgeons must provide consumers and home owners with specific precontractual information (under Consumer Contracts Regulations (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) 2013). The CCRs apply to private clients only and do not apply to commercial clients.
The precontractual information must cover the tree surgeon’s cancellation policy and payment terms. The CCRs provide consumers who agree to a tree surgery contract a 14-day cooling-off period during which they can cancel the work without charge. If the work is requested to start within the 14-day period, then there is no statutory right to cancel.
In case of emergency call-out or when there is limited time to provide precontractual information, only limited information will be required over the phone. Tree surgeons should still provide the remaining information in writing when they arrive at the client’s property before they agree to carry out the work.
It is best practice for a tree surgeon’s standard terms and conditions of business to include precontractual information (required under the CCRs) as well as the following:
- Tree surgeon’s trading name, address and telephone number.
- If applicable, VAT and company registration number.
- Clear descriptions of available services.
- Total price of the service (if applicable, including VAT) or the way the price is calculated (if the price cannot be calculated in advance).
- Maximum amount of compensation that clients are entitled to for any damage to their property and all circumstances excluding the tree surgeon from liability.
- Any guarantee or warranties offered.
- Confirmation of public liability insurance held by the tree surgeon.
The T’s and C’s should also include the rights and responsibilities of each party:
- Client’s responsibility to give the tree surgeon access to the tree & any charges payable if the tree surgeon has to wait for the client.
- Client’s responsibility to keep children and pets out of the working area.
- Tree surgeon’s right to withdraw services in certain circumstances (if they have been provided with false information for example).
- Tree surgeon’s right to use subcontractors.
- Client’s responsibility to ensure appropriate consent to carry out the work has been obtained.
- Whose responsibility it is to dispose of waste produced during the work.
The CCRs are enforced by local authority trading standards officers. They can be contacted for advice and guidance about complying with the CCRs and any other consumer protection legislation.
If you’re unsure, it might be worth having a solicitor look at your standard T’s and C’s to ensure that they comply with consumer protection and general trading law.
For contracts with local authorities or larger commercial organisations, tree surgeons will usually have to accept the contracting organisation’s own T’s and C’s of business (including payment schedule and methods).