Potential problems

By accepting an order acknowledgement the buyer may be limiting his/her bargaining strength in a number of ways. For example, he/she may be agreeing to

  • Pay the price applicable at the date of despatch rather than at the date of the order being placed
  • An ill-defined force-majeure clause
  • Accepting a delivery quantity that is plus or minus 10% of the order quantity (note this is a common clause in printed material contracts)
  • Accepting an ‘evergreen’ termination clause which automatically renews the length of the agreement after a predetermined period, unless notice for termination is given, usually at a particular point in time. Evergreens are often found in agreements such as memberships or maintenance contracts.


Acknowledgements have been known to include clauses such as:

  • Disclaiming responsibility for the skill or efficiency of the workforce
  • Stating that all specifications may be changed without notice 
  • Refusing to accept responsibility for anything said by the supplier's representatives

These clauses are best handled at the pre-order placing stage, when the buyer is in a strong position, rather than later when the contract is being governed by the supplier's conditions and the buyer urgently requires the goods.

If in doubt at all, please consult your Head of Procurement for guidance.