Does my website need terms and conditions?
Let’s face it – website terms and conditions are not exactly exciting! We know they’re important, but when you’re concentrating on getting your site design and content ‘just right’, the small print is probably not high on your list of priorities.
It’s not a legal requirement to publish terms and conditions (also known as T&Cs or Terms of Service) on your website. However, there are legislative frameworks which mean that it is necessary to display specific information.
Why do I need website terms and conditions?
T&Cs define your agreement with your customers, users and suppliers. They state your processes and procedures, limit your liability and establish the agreements that you and your users agree to be bound by.
Since the Consumer Rights Act 2015 came into force, your business has an increased obligation to create visible T&Cs because consumers have a legal right to expect them to be fair and transparent. Should you ever face a legal battle, it is the terms and conditions that a court will look at to determine the contractual terms between you and the user/customer.
All businesses with an online presence, even if they are not selling goods or services, must include certain details to comply with the Electronic Commerce Regulations. If you’re not familiar with these, there’s a handy (though uninteresting!) guide here.
What do I need to include?
T&Cs vary depending on the nature of your business and type of website; blogs, social networking sites and ecommerce sites all have very different requirements. They can range from simple, standard terms for ‘information only’ websites to complex e-commerce rules governing buyers and sellers.
As a general rule, you should:
- Provide full company details
Clearly state the owner/company details, contact details and VAT registration details.
- Limit liability
If users can post content on your site, you really don’t want to be liable for it! A basic disclaimer stating that you do not endorse users and are not responsible for third party content will suffice. Don’t forget to note that you are not responsible for errors in your web content either.
- Protect copyright and intellectual property
If you don’t want users copying images, content or even your logo and using it for their own purposes, then you need to protect it with a copyright statement.
- Declare the governing law
It might be obvious to you, but state where your website is operating from e.g. ‘These terms and conditions are governed by the laws of United Kingdom’.
Protect your online business
Hundreds of T&Cs templates are freely available on the internet, but do your research – a ‘one-size fits all’ approach may leave your business vulnerable. In the end, whilst T&Cs are not the most fascinating part of getting your business online, they’re really important to ensure that you protect yourself and comply with the law.
Speaking of which, we hope it’s obvious, but whilst we’re experts in web design, we’re not lawyers so this blog doesn’t constitute legal advice! If you’d like a chat about what’s relevant for your firm’s website or need some help then give us a call, after all websites are our business!