Do you know when your contracts expire?

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While some contracts continue on a rolling basis until such time as one party decides to serve notice on the other to cancel the contract, other contracts can be entered into for a fixed term of weeks, months or years.

Depending on the terms agreed between the customer and the supplier in the contract, often at the end of the fixed term the supplier can simply stop providing the service.

The Guardian newspaper has reported the rather unfortunate consequences of a failure to renew a contract relating to ketchup giant Heinz. Heinz overlooked the renewal of a QR code link on a promotional bottle of ketchup and so the contract for the ownership of the domain name the code directed the customer to expired.

Somewhat embarrassingly, on expiry the domain name was snapped up by a German company in the adult entertainment sector and unwitting customers were directed to a site that contained rather more than they bargained for!

To avoid situations such as this one suffered by Heinz, and to keep business running smoothly, it is important that businesses are aware of when significant contracts are due to expire, both with their customers and with suppliers.

Diarising reminders to renew or review important contracts can help to avoid a contract being cancelled without the business being aware and avoid potentially embarrassing and commercially damaging consequences.

Elaine Mann is a solicitor in the company commercial department at Barker Gotelee, Ipswich Solicitors.

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