All manufacturers are generally tired of hearing about supply chain problems. These days companies are looking for ways to mitigate shipping delays (i.e., can we ship to a port other than Long Beach?) and the increased cost for raw materials.

Interestingly, I am starting to see consumer product companies and business-to-business manufacturers use similar language to address these issues.

Consumer Product Example for Shipping Delays:

“We are currently experiencing a high volume of orders and shipping may be delayed as a result.”

B2B Manufacturer Example for Shipping Delays:

“All existing valid quotations may be subject to additional lead time.”

B2B manufacturers are also dealing with the volatility in the cost and availability of raw materials. As a result, some companies are adding language like this to their contracts and terms and conditions of sale:

“Due to the volatility in the price and availability of raw materials, Manufacturer reserves the right to pass along subsequent price increases and surcharges from our vendors without further notification.” 

Our Reaction:

As manufacturing industry lawyers, we understand the objective of adding such language. If you are considering adding such language, you should keep two things in mind:  (1) consider whether the additions are actually in line with basic tenets of contract law (i.e., are you adding additional terms after the contract was accepted by the customer?); (2) consider the optics of telling all your customers in standard language that you may be late. For these reasons, manufacturers should consider managing these issues on a case-by-case basis – with assistance from legal counsel, as needed.

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Photo of Jeffrey White Jeffrey White

I am a partner at Robinson+Cole who handles corporate compliance and litigation matters for both domestic and international manufacturers and distributors that make and ship products around the world. My clients have ranged from publicly traded Fortune 500 companies to privately held and/or…

I am a partner at Robinson+Cole who handles corporate compliance and litigation matters for both domestic and international manufacturers and distributors that make and ship products around the world. My clients have ranged from publicly traded Fortune 500 companies to privately held and/or family owned manufacturers. For those looking for my detailed law firm bio, click here.

I am often asked why I have focused a large part of my law practice on counseling manufacturers and distributors. As with most things in life, the answer to that question is tied back to experiences I had well before I became a lawyer. My grandfather spent over 30 years working at a steel mill (Detroit Steel Company), including several years in its maintenance department. One of my grandfather’s prime job duties was to make sure that the equipment being used was safe. In his later years, he would apply those lessons learned in every project we did together as he passed on to me his great respect and pride for the manufacturing industry.

Because of these experiences, I not only feel comfortable advising executives in a boardroom, but also can easily transition to the factory floor. My experience has involved a range of industries, including aerospace and defense, chemicals, energy, pharmaceuticals and life sciences, nutritional and dietary supplements, and retail and consumer products. While I have extensive experience in litigation (including product liability and class actions), I am extremely proactive about trying to keep my clients out of the courtroom if at all possible. Specifically, I have counseled manufacturers and distributors on issues such as product labeling and warranties, product recalls, workplace safety/OSHA, anti-trust, and vendor relations, among other things. I always look for the business-friendly solution to a problem that may face a manufacturer or distributor and I hope this blog will help advance those efforts.