Is it a legal requirement to include T&Cs?
What should you include in the T&Cs?
- How to make a purchase
- How to make a payment
- How they will receive their products
- How they can cancel orders
What kind of protection can you expect from the T&Cs? It may not be uncommon for disputes to arise between you and your online customers or visitors. Therefore, it is essential to ensure that the terms and conditions are accessible, preferably on your website.
You also need to protect your website from copyright infringements. You can avoid potential disputes and confusion by specifying which sections are copyrighted and which are your intellectual property. You should also stipulate what visitors can do with your data. If there is any breach of your copyright or intellectual property, the terms and conditions should clearly explain how the problem will be resolved.
Are there standard T&Cs which apply to all websites?
There are general formats or templates of T&Cs that you can obtain for free online. However, there is always the possibility that these documents will not cover specific aspects of your business or will not include the relevant terms. If you omit an essential term from your website, you may find yourself vulnerable if a dispute arises. Therefore, it is critical that you customise your terms and conditions so they are suitable for your website and business.
- Product and service offerings – No two businesses are alike, even if you sell the same products and services. For example, your competitor may only accept PayPal but you may allow other modes of payment.
- Industry or target audience – In every industry, there are specific provisions that need to be included in the T&Cs. For example, customers may have a legal right to cancel or return their purchases within a specified period.
Your T&Cs are like any other enforceable contract. Nevertheless, you must ensure that they don’t contravene existing consumer laws or government regulations. Remember, you should only incorporate clauses that you can legally apply.
Terms and conditions are necessary for all businesses, including e-commerce sites. It is essential that you create T&Cs that are suitable for your products and services, and that they are legally enforceable. You also need to periodically review your T&Cs, especially if there have been any significant changes to your business structure or the law. Moreover, they must be accessible to your online customers and visitors. If they are not aware of your T&Cs, you may find it difficult to enforce them if a problem arises.
Written by Kerry Gibbs, a legal expert at BEB Contract and Legal Services.