PROTECTING YOUR BUSINESS’ ONLINE PRESENCE
In 2017 an online presence for your business is no longer an optional convenience but a commercial necessity. The rapid spread of connected technology has caught many lawmakers off guard as the internet has not only connected people on a local scale, but provided businesses and consumers alike access to global markets as well.
The World Wide Web is accessible by billions of people and when you offer a product or service on the internet, it is important that you have a set of T’s & C’s that will govern the relationship between the end-users and the website operator in connection with the website and its various offerings. Let’s not forget the lessons learned from the Smokeball Case in making unilateral contracts without setting terms and conditions.
A clear set of T’s & C’s will establish the ownership rights to the website, its content, and the offerings featured on the website. It could also help limit the liability of the owner and establish payment terms.
ISSUES TO CONSIDER
So what are some of the key issues to consider when selling goods or services on a website?
While specific issues may vary with particular business types, examples may include:
- Is it clear what products or services you will be providing?
- What is the ordering procedure?
- Do you include a price list and if so does it include GST/VAT?
- What are the payment terms?
- Have you considered international customers?
- What terms can be implied into the sale and do some terms need to be made explicit?
- Do you reserve the right to amend the terms and conditions?
- Do you need to protect any intellectual property on the website such as logos and other trademarks?
- Can you embellish on the description of goods?
- Do you need to disclaim responsibility in certain circumstances for sales that don’t complete?
- Do you seek full disclaimer of liability?
- Beside your usual disclaimer are there specific warnings which you may need to highlight?
- Do you reserve the right to terminate any service agreement?
- What are the governing laws for the interpretation of the terms and conditions?
Your website T’s & C’s are often the only agreement in place between your business and your online customers. It is vital that they set out and consider as many as possible of the contingencies that can arise from the underlying commercial relationship.
YOUR WEBSITE IS UNIQUE
One size does not fit all.
It is important to make sure your T’s & C’s are specifically written for your business, the content and offerings featured on your website, so that the underlying commercial relationship between your business and the end user is clearly defined. Consult a lawyer and avoid the temptation to copy someone else’s T’s & C’s as their business and circumstances may be different from yours.
For more information, please contact us.
 Carlill v Carbolic Smoke Ball Company  EWCA Civ 1