Business hours can be confusing

Andrew Oranjuik

Andrew Oranjuik

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Many Shropshire companies use the phrase ‘by close of business’, but what does that actually mean?

Andrew Oranjuik from Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Telford, said although the phrase was common when it came to doing a business deal, in legal terms it was open to interpretation.

“If you’re trading with other countries or online, obviously there’s likely to be a time difference, and so companies might expect there could be confusion over deadlines.

“So it’s important to always stress which time zone applies in the contract or any correspondence, stating clearly that the deal must be completed for example by 17.30 GMT. Don’t just assume that the other party will be working to your time zone.”

But Mr Oranjuik said surprisingly, issues over timings and deadlines were just as likely to crop up in business deals done with other companies here in the UK too.

“Your close of business deadline could be 5pm, but for other industries, such as financial advisers, close of business could be much later – maybe around 9pm.

“International banks have another point of view as their close of business is around 7pm, so it’s vital to have a clear understanding of timings, and a defined cut-off point to ensure everyone is working towards the same deadline.”

Mr Oranjuik said it was far safer to state a time in any contract negotiations, such as ‘by 5.30pm’, as this will avoid any confusion or dispute as to whether or not something was done by close of business.

“We’ve all seen the phrase used in a wide variety of situations: this offer is available until close of business on Friday; we need to hear from you by close of business on Tuesday; I’m only in the office until close of business on Thursday; but it’s easy to see how complicated things can get.

“Try to keep things clear and simple by stating a specific time in any business dealings, and that way you’ll avoid the potential difficulties that could arise.

“Getting the best business deal is all about timing, so the last thing you need is for there to be any confusion over whose hours you’re working to.”

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