Is there a business risk in paying suppliers late?

The simple answer is – yes absolutely!

At the risk of teaching you to suck eggs when someone buys goods or services a contract is formed. This is just an agreement between the two parties to the transaction. If one of the terms of the agreement is not met then there is a breach of contract.

One potential area of agreement could be when payment should be made and penalties if it is late i.e. a pre-agreed sum due if the terms are broken by paying late. Without this it is ultimately for the Courts to decide the penalty. Pre-agreement simplifies the process and as a consequence reduces potential costs.

If there is no written agreement, or nothing in it about late payments, many businesses think this is the end of the matter. In fact the law implies statutory late payment penalty clauses into commercial contracts. The parties are unable to exclude the terms and they set out a fixed penalty and an interest element.

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