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Hi all


I run a small outfit mainly dealing with system hire to pub bands/school productions/churches/you know the score!


I may at this point mention it's a hobby not a business! I charge for my petrol prices and anything left over goes into a fund for more kit! Sad I know!


I do wonder whether sometimes I should back myself up legally speaking, I of course have 3rd party insurance. I do occasionally lend kit out without my being there and in the past if I've not trusted them, I've made up a very quick microsoft word document saying "thou shalt" and "thou shalt not" and a signature for receipt of the kit.


I'm now wondering about writing a few terms and conditions, nothing too over the top, remembering a lot of the groups I work with are teenagers who just wanto be heard as they make their debut and don't want hassle. Nevertheless, a little small print would be useful.


Is there anywhere where there'e some printed? Maybe a book with some guidelines? Any ideas of wat I should include?


I'm also wanting some forms listing equipment hired with a signature at the bottom for receipt and collection. A carbon copy for my records would be useful. Anybody know of a printers who've got these to sell without me having to get a batch custom made?



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I appreciate that it's a hobby, but the fact that you are getting customers to sign an agreement introduces the idea of a contract into the equation. Therefore, you are putting legal restrictions and benefits on your customer, and your customer may reasonably expect a duty of care from you.


For small operations like your own, if the amount charged really does just cover costs, often the tax people aren't too worried. If it starts getting a little more profitable, then setting up as a sole proprietor and submitting a three line account each year (allowable if turnover doesn't exceed something like £15000) covers you.


In any case, you will want to keep records of income and expenses, otherwise the tax people with guess this for you, should they decide you are making earnings from your hobby.


A far as the paperwork itself is concerned, a quick check of most hire firms paperwork / website will often show a suitable framework to start from!



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Just to chip in here...


Even if the taxman doesn't regard your activities as a business, you are still creating a contract by hiring out gear. (The definition of a contract is an exchange of goods or services in return for a consideration - normally money, but could be payment in kind). A verbal contract ("I'll hire you xxx and it will cost £yyy") is still a contract.


So the legal side of things exists but is much greyer. You have lots of interesting issues - for example if your gear fails and causes someone's show to be abandoned, what is your liability? Any sensible hire agreement will place a limitation on this.


The other complication in your situation is, as far as I know, in UK law, someone under the age of majority cannot enter into a contract! So I'm not sure exactly how enforcable a hire agreement would be if any of your teenagers are under 18.


Anyway, I would strongly recommend having some sort of terms and conditions that are part of or referenced by a hire agreement that is signed by the customer. (And you need to make sure that they are fair and balanced, and that the customer is aware of them. Otherwise they could be worthless). The reason is that, sooner or later, something will go pear-shaped, and the resulting can of worms will be far bigger if there is nothing to spell out the exact responsibilities of both sides. Unfortunately, the world is becoming increasingly litigious and you need to protect yourself, especially because agressive no-win no-fee lawyers are breeding like rabbits.


And doing a detailed kit list for every job is also essential, especially because cables have a habit of going walkies.


Hope this helps,



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Thanks for pointing that out Paul, I can only blame total inadequacy (sp?) and an atrocious memory on my part.


My worry is that I do work safely, and I do respect my kit (in the eyes of some of the groups I work with, far too much) but I don't want somebody else's misuse of my kit to leave me high and dry (does anybody?).


As for the tax issue, that is one that I'm watching, and I am keeping receipts and notes on all income/outgoings. This is slightly helped by having a seperate "technician account" which all my takings go into. I keep a couple of hundred quid in there for emergencies (mixer dies a week before a big job for example) but my rule is that it never rises higher or lower than that. I work during the day so the money in there is purely for my hobby. You can tell I'm not maried and don't have any kids yet can't you!



Some hire companies websites have proved very helpful, thanks for the offer of the email paul, but in the end I think I've just about got there! I'll hopefully post what I've written so far within the next week or so. The trick is making it cover all the grund whilst still not putting off a bunch of 16 year olds who just want their first club gig to go right, or a small dramatic company trying to put on a show for family and friends

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