E-shop proper Terms and Conditions. An essential element to any credible online business.

02 April 2020

 

As an effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the corresponding lockdown, businesses are intensifying their efforts to establish or market their “e-shop” in order to accommodate their customers online and in order to mitigate, to the extent possible, the economic consequences on their business through online sales.  Having the right terms and conditions might not seem as the first priority in terms of setting up an e-shop but it is an essential element to safeguard the legal interests of the business, to protect it from liability and generally to increase its credibility by clearly setting the rules pursuant to which potential customers can use the website, purchase goods and services, and disclose their personal data. In fact having such clearly defined terms may be a legal obligation under applicable laws.  The following are some essential terms that should ideally be incorporated:

Terms of Use

The terms of use refers to certain terms and conditions pursuant to which potential customers can navigate the website, namely to explore but not necessarily to purchase any goods or services.  Such terms customarily include provisions on retaining the ownership and exclusive use of trademarks, copyright and other intellectual property rights, disclaimers on content and certain limitations on liability. Terms of use are frequently agreed and accepted by visitors impliedly, namely by use of the website, without the need to create an account or tick any box.

Terms of Supply of Goods or Services

Terms of supply of goods or services operate in addition and as an integral part of the terms of use. They are basically the contract between the customer and the online business which sets out each party’s respective rights and obligations in purchasing goods and services through the e-shop.  Such terms customarily include provisions on product description, placing orders, shipping and delivery, payment terms, defective products, returns and cancellation policies, refunds, product liability, product warranties, disclaimers, limitations of liability, customer account and other related essential terms. Especially in terms of e-shops which sell products to consumers (and not other businesses) these provisions must be in conformity, and must offer at least equivalent protection, to mandatory applicable provisions of related Cyprus and European legislation, such as the Consumer Rights Law of 2013, as amended, and the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Law of 1996, as amended.  Terms of supply or goods and services are ideally expressly agreed by the customer by ticking the box “I agree” ( designed to operate tantamount to an electronic signature) both in the context of account creation and upon checkout for every order placed.

Privacy and Cookies Policy

Collection, processing and control of personal data from the users of the e-shop should be explicitly disclosed, either as part of the terms of use or through an independent privacy policy forming an integral part thereof. The users need to be made aware, inter alia,  what personal data are being collected by the website, how this information is stored, how it will be used and how they can instruct you to delete or cease all processing of such information. Adopting and implementing such a policy is in fact a legal obligation of every business dealing with personal data, including e-shops, under the General Data Protection Regulation which is directly applicable in Cyprus. This applies to cookies collected on your website as well.

 

While the above constitute a fair description of essential terms that somewhat universally apply for e-shops, the terms & conditions of your website should be tailored to the nature, characteristics and objective of your specific business. Drafting terms & conditions is certainly not a “copy paste” endeavor and it should be undertaken by experienced commercial lawyers who, for one,  can appreciate your business’ legal obligations in terms of applicable laws and, for the other,  have both the knowledge and ability to draft and construct proper terms which reflect the particulars of your specific business.

 

For more information contact us at info@playbell.com

 

Author: Varnavas Playbell

 

The above is for information purposes only and does not consitute advice.