You’re building a beautiful new website for your business. You’ve spent countless hours perfecting the copy, choosing your imagery and photography, selecting colours and fonts and working on your logo. You’re getting ready to launch and then your developer asks you for your ‘Terms and Conditions’ page.
What the? Amongst all the fun of the creative process, you hadn’t even thought about boring administrative tasks such as creating website Terms and Conditions. Does anyone ever read these? Do I even need them?
Technically there is no legal obligation to have a Terms and Conditions page, however you definitely should have one.
What are Website Terms and Conditions Pages
Website Terms and Conditions pages set out the rules for using your website, including what visitors to your website can use the information on your website for, how they may use your website and any information on your website such as blogs and photos and what you will, and will not, be liable for. In the event of a dispute between you and a visitor or user of your website, the Terms and Conditions set out the basis of the relationship between you and them.
What should they include
Website Terms and Conditions should be tailored to your business to ensure that the manner in which users engage with your website is sufficiently covered.
As a general rule, website Terms and Conditions will cover:
- Privacy – If you are collecting information from website users, even basic information such as IP addresses or locations, using website tools and cookies or are collecting information from basic online enquiry forms, you may need to disclose this to users. There are particular rules which set out what information you may collect from website users, when you have to disclose such collection and how collected information may be used and must be stored. The laws can be complex and in some cases Australian businesses who are doing business with individuals and companies overseas will need to adhere to the laws of those countries.
- Liability – Basic disclaimers limiting your liability to users for things such as errors on your website, website unavailability, damages or loss which may be caused to a user’s device by accessing your website (such as the downloading of viruses or relying on information you may have referred to in a blog) are always a good idea. If your website will allow people to make public comments or upload information, you don’t want to be held liable for any such comments and similarly if you reference or provide links to other website or resources you don’t want to be held responsible for that content.
- Intellectual Property – You will own the intellectual property rights in any content which you create and make available on your website. Your intellectual property is an asset of your business and therefore it is important to make it clear that any information, content, images etc on your website is (unless you state otherwise) owned by you and no-one has the right to download, use, reproduce or copy any such content without your prior written approval.
- Payment Terms – If users are able to make purchases through your website, it is important to set out the payment terms and conditions, the responsibilities of the user in terms of ensuring that all the information (such as payment and delivery details) they input is correct and what your refund policy is. There are some basic consumer rights which are set out in law and any refund policy will need to adhere to these basic principles.
What not to do
When preparing your website Terms and Conditions as tempting as it may be DO NOT just copy something from another website. Not only is this in breach of copyright, but the terms may not be appropriate for your business or the laws where you live or are operating your business.
If the ‘legal fine print’ is all too much for you, enlist the expertise of a lawyer to assist you with this part of the website journey. Not only will a lawyer be able to assist you in understanding what your legal obligations are under privacy legislation (if any), but they will be able to assist in tailoring some website Terms and Conditions to your specific business. We have assisted many clients in preparing website Terms and Conditions and we do it for a fixed fee! If you’re looking at having these prepared, reach out and ask us for a quote.