17 October 2016

Whether you are an entrepreneur with an innovative product or service or a traditional business keeping up with current trends it is no understatement that the website is one of the most vital components of today’s business, perhaps even more that the store or the office. Having the right terms and conditions might not seem as the first priority, but it is an essential element to safeguard your interests, protect yourself from liability and generally set the rules of use, thus indicating your professionalism and credibility.

Irrespective of your website’s purpose, whether that be marketing, informational, social networking, subscription based service or an e-store, the following are some essential elements that should be incorporated in the terms & conditions:

Limitation of Liability

It is of crucial importance that you are not liable, or limit your liability to the fullest extent permissible by law, to end users for the use of any information or feature on your website. Towards that end there should be a clause or clauses, preferably appearing in capital or bold, that generally exclude your liability.

Disclaimers

Closely related and ancillary to limitation of liability, it is essential that you expressly include disclaimers, namely warnings that serve to alleviate your duty of care. This can be for instance a disclaimer that the information or other features of your website may be outdated or inaccurate and should not be relied upon.  Other common disclaimers include a statement that the website and its content are provided “as is” and that no representations, guarantees or warranties are given on such content. Another example may be disclaimers on liability in connection to 3rd party content, which may be displayed in your website, for example posts from users.

Intellectual Property Rights

It should always be stated that you own and retain all intellectual property ownership whatsoever on the contents and code of the website and that copying, redistribution, use or publication by the user is prohibited, reserving all your legal rights. Special consideration should be made to third party intellectual property rights on the website appearing perhaps on the basis of a licence by the ultimate owner.

Privacy & Cookies Policy

Collection of information from the users of the website should be explicitly stated, either through provisions imbedded on the terms & conditions or through an independent privacy policy. The users need to be made aware that information such as their personal information and data are being collected by the website, how this information will be used and how they can remove or instruct you to cease all processing on such information. This may very well be a legal obligation depending on the jurisdiction which you are operating. This applies to cookies collected on your website as well.

While the above constitute a handful of essential terms that somewhat universally apply, the terms & conditions of your website should be tailored to the nature and objective of your website. For some uses, for example if you are an e-store, a subscription based platform or generally offer products or services online for payment, then your terms and condition will be your user agreement, namely the agreement which governs the rights and obligations between you and the end user in connection with the sale and purchase of those products or services. For these reasons drafting terms & conditions is certainly not a “copy paste” endeavour and, especially for innovative entrepreneurial business models, it should be undertaken by experienced commercial lawyers who have both the ability to iterate and construct bespoke terms but also the commercial awareness to comprehend and appreciate your business model in the first place.

For more information, feel free to contact us at admin@playbell.com