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Working with Contracts Guide

Release date: 1 January 2012

Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education

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This guide was authored by the then Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education as part of the Small Business portfolio policy functions which have since been transferred to the Treasury.

The Working with Contracts Guide aims to assist small business managers in using contracts confidently and appropriately as a commercial tool.

Dealing with contracts is very much a part of small business management. Once in place, contractual requirements largely dictate the way in which small businesses operate. In short, they underpin the viability and security of any business, large or small.

Confidence in working with contracts is therefore very important.

Confidence comes from understanding. This guide is specifically designed to familiarise small business managers with contracts - what they are, what they contain, how to avoid the pitfalls - and to help you get the most from these very valuable and fundamentally important business tools.

In particular, the guide provides a plain English approach to understanding:

  • the essential ingredients of a contract, supported by useful and practical examples relevant to small business
  • the more frequently encountered and important legal jargon used in contracts
  • the different types of contracts
  • the basic content and structure of contracts
  • what standard form contracts are and some useful pointers on constructing your own
  • some of the basic issues relating to specific types of small business relationships.

This guide also provides a summary checklist of all the issues raised and where to obtain more detailed information and assistance. It will not replace the need for professional legal advice where required.

The guide is about giving small business managers the ability to be able to use contracts confidently: to be able to identify the major issues and avoid the major pitfalls.

© Commonwealth of Australia 2012

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