Do I Require Terms & Conditions For My Website?

Do you have a company website?
Are you sure that you have the applicable T&Cs?

Online presence is very important for business transactions in today’s world. This enhances the need for appropriate terms and conditions (T&Cs) before going live with your company’s website and any transactions taking place. After all your T&Cs govern your relationship with your customers and users of your website.

Websites that offer goods and services

When a customer purchases goods and services through your website, it is vital that you have the relevant e-commerce T&Cs available. These T&Cs are essentially your contract with the customer and they govern the terms upon which you conduct your online business and supply good and / or services. E-commerce T&Cs should be simple and clearly drafted, avoiding any misleading statements. The best suited T&Cs for your business will depend on the nature of the business and will take into consideration factors such as whether the business enters into business to business and / or business to consumers transactions.

When selling goods and services online to Australian consumers you are required by law to set clear T&Cs. Any non-compliant site with consumer legislation or privacy requirements may subject the business to fines and / or public notification which could be a substantial risk to the business’ reputation. Therefore, from the outset, it is necessary to determine the type of transactions your business will be entering into. You will need clauses addressing amongst others: price; refund policy; payment terms; limitation of liability; quality; dispute resolution; modifications and privacy.

The next step will be to decide how the T&Cs will be fully incorporated in the website. On many sites, immediately prior to checkout, there is normally a box to be ticked, by the customer, acknowledging that they have read, understood and agree to the T&Cs. This is like a virtual signature pursuant to which the customer accepts your T&Cs. Even if customers do not actually read the T&Cs, their importance is not mitigated, on the contrary, the T&Cs will be critical in determining the legal position of the parties should the transaction be challenged for any reason by the customer.

Other websites

Other commercial websites should also have terms of use, which are effectively the T&Cs for users of that site.  Such T&Cs of use are generally more straight-forward.  However, they should ensure that (among other things) your intellectual property rights are protected and cover other issues such as implications of relying on information found on your website as well as the limitation of your liability.

Other legal documentation

You may also consider drafting and including cookie and website privacy policies on the company’s website.  Businesses use cookies to enable them to provide tailored information to their customers including offers that might interest them.  On the other hand, privacy policies contain clauses that outline the information you may collect from your customers as well as how this information may be utilised by the business.

Contact Allied Legal

Preparing T&Cs tailored to your business needs can be a tricky process. For this reason, we recommend that business owners engage a qualified commercial lawyer to draft them. In preparing your own T&Cs, you risk them not being up to date with relevant laws or not covering all relevant matters and risks.

 

Should you require further assistance, Allied Legal’s commercial lawyers in Melbourne can help guide you through the process and advise you on all the issues.  Our lawyers are regularly engaged to prepare T&Cs.  We also provide free 30-minute initial consultations to help understand your needs.  Please contact us when you are ready to seek specialist advice: http://alliedlegal.com.au/contact/.