Terms and Conditions (T&Cs) are a legally binding contract between your business and your website’s users This contract sets out the rules and guidelines for using your services and/or website and doing business with you.
This article highlights important aspects of a Terms and Conditions agreement and why you should have one.
Limiting Your Liability
One essential function of your T&Cs agreement is to mitigate the likelihood or possible outcome of a legal dispute. Whether you are a London-based medical doctor, an accountant operating out of Sydney, Australia, or a U.S based Dallas business attorney, a well-drafted T&C agreement on your website can more often than not protect or limit your liability in the eventuality of a legal dispute between your business and clients or users of your website.
While you can, of course, find any one of the numerous templates found online and use on your website, this, no doubt, can potentially have its negative consequences, such as the terms not catering to the specific situation of your business, industry or legal jurisdiction. It is therefore wise to consult professional advice from someone with extensive knowledge of the industry of your business or of legal matters in general, such as a business law attorney.
The T&Cs on your website can help you to provide better customer service by reassuring the customer about the procedures and timeline of your services including handling complaints, processing of refunds, response time and much more. The customer will have clarity of what to expect and you will, therefore, have a clear out in the event of a dispute, or even as a way to pacify the website user and manage their expectations about your services.
Well-written terms and conditions agreement should, therefore, be easily accessible. It is recommended that they should be linked to the footer of each webpage of your website.
Offer certainty to your users and customers
Even though the assumption is often made that very few people ever read the terms and conditions of a website or service before they use them, the fact of the matter is that you can be sure that there will be a few people at some point in time who will read it. This is especially true depending on the type of product or service you offer on your website. The more complex a product or service you offer, such as a membership subscription service, a very expensive product or service, or one where sensitive information is exchanged, then you can be sure that more people are likely to read your T&Cs before they agree to proceed with the transaction.
That said, a well-written, friendly and comprehensive T&C can go a long way in assuring potential customers that it is safe to do business with you and that you as the business, declares that your part of the agreement will be honored. In the same way, the customer enters into this contract and can therefore also be held legally accountable if they do not uphold their end of the contract.
Importance and Uses of a Terms and Conditions Agreement
The responsibilities of both parties will be clear and, as they are in writing, easy to refer to should a disagreement arise. In the absence of written T&Cs agreement, a legal professional involved in resolving the dispute will have to look over all written communication to establish the agreements that were discussed by each party, which could become a lengthy process and costly.
Copyright Your Content
You can use your Terms and Conditions to declare that you are the owner of your website’s content – all of the unique content that constitutes your website. You will then be protected under “The Intellectual Property Clause” which is an international copyright law to prevent content theft. Any third party licenses can also be included in this section of your T&Cs. You can read more about this here.
Acknowledge Your Governing Law
The governing law of your jurisdiction can also be stated in your T&Cs so that any party engaging with your services is aware of the particular jurisdiction you are subject to.
The ‘Choice of Law Clause’ will make it clear which particular jurisdiction legal disputes will be determined in accordance with.
The Termination Agreement
If you require registration in order to access your website or information on your website, your Terms and Conditions could include the resulting implications of misuse by a registered user. For instance, In the event of a user communicating on your platform with hate speech, the consequence would be banning the guilty user. This agreement is called The Termination Agreement in which the users’ registration and access to your website will be terminated. This will ensure that you control the user’s limitations, resulting in a fair website.
Protect Personal Information
Provide Your Business Details
Listing your business registration number and tax number in order to have this information easily accessible to let your visitors know that you are a registered and legally operating company can boost a user’s confidence in doing business with you.
Naturally, all business owners want to avoid legal disputes as far as they possibly can. With a well-written and legally binding Terms and Conditions agreement that is easily located on your website, you can often avoid unnecessary and costly legal fees to retain a lawyer in the event of a lawsuit, which if it does come up, can sometimes be shut down or dismissed by pointing to the T&Cs page.
As an honest business person, you want to stay on the right side of the law whether at your brick and mortar store or on your website. Consult with a business attorney to write up a solid agreement is something that will work much more in your favor than against you and your business.