Terms that protect your e-commerce enabled website
Because your terms and conditions are your contract with your client or customer, and because consumers have so much legal protection when shopping online, it is very important to get them right.
If your T&C don’t cover certain matters, it might be not just that you don’t have the same rights in law that you could have, but you could be breaking the law, with the possibility of being fined.
What we include in all these documents
Our terms cover both use of the website as a visitor – an Acceptable Use Policy – and terms of sale relevant to the business model you have.
As with all Net Lawman documents, we use plain English in this document. Particularly for T&C, plain language strengthens the contract because clearly setting out how a business works prevents misunderstandings and makes resolving disputes much easier. Of course, it also makes editing the template easier as well.
We provide extensive guidance notes that explain each paragraph. Despite our efforts to draw documents to fit common business models, there may be paragraphs that you will want to change because your business is different.
We can check your edits as part of our additional review service if you would like us to confirm that they fit.
Protection from misuse
We believe that site security is very important. Having strong security terms in your T&C is not going to stop visitors behaving badly, but it does:
provide a deterrent to any misuse for which you could sue in court
prevent you being blamed for criminal or nuisance activity
reduce the chance of your being the subject of some bad social medium campaign - particularly important if your members can contribute content to your site that you might not moderate in real time
give a message that you are not a “soft touch”
allow you to stay in full control of what happens on your website
By using these provisions, we give you the best possible defence against anyone who claims he has been insulted, injured, or defamed.
We provide disclaimers. They are not always binding because you can disclaim only so far as the law allows. The law is complicated and much depends on the facts of each case. If you overstep the mark, your disclaimer will be void.
We use disclaimers strongly but we use words that we hope will avoid upsetting your clients and customers.
Intellectual property protection and confidentiality
We provide the strongest protection for your IP rights, whether your site is “IP light” or involves complex software and systems.
Your confidential information is defined at length. We help you safeguard all your secrets.
Suitable for sites with international visitors
Our documents are written to cover international use because most websites are likely to attract visitors from across the world.
Every document is drawn under the law of England and Wales. Much is likely to be enforceable in many other legal jurisdictions as well.
Scotland and Northern Ireland have adopted the same law in the vast majority of cases, but we make no promises as to full compliance with Scottish law.
Your business model might include advertising in some way, such as advertising brands in a particular category of products.
Our documents do not regulate the terms you and your advertiser, but we do include general terms intended to protect you from a claim by a visitor in respect of anything he or she might claim against you.
Customer data storage
We make sure your user does not expect you to keep his or her data indefinitely, or at all. We also cover you against any claim that you are in breach of any customer “right” covering that data.
Basis of contract
You cannot impose rules. You can only make a contract.
A contract is only formed if your visitor ticks a box to do so explicitly. No tick, no contract. So if you have a site that is entirely open to use, or even pages than can be explored before registration, it cannot be fully protected by any T&C document. Despite that principle, there are circumstances in which you could claim that your T&Cs apply, so it is always worth having them.
Price and payment
We give you options on every part of the charging process, from straight unit price to royalty, to payment on running credit account, to commission on sales. Like all other terms, we make it easy for you by limiting options to what is appropriate for a site like yours.
Consumer protection, order cancellation and returns
The law in this area starts with common law dealing with the basics of contracts: offer, acceptance, price and payment, provision of service, liabilities, returns, retention of title and risk. Then there are acts and regulations on every element of trading.
If you sell to consumers, you must comply with the arcane and unnecessary (in our humble opinion) Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013. Every relevant document includes not only an extensive explanation, but also the words of the notice you must give, and instructions as to how to deal. We tell you what you need to know, but give you only what you need in your particular business.
We provide sensible terms. However, the law everywhere provides that if you sell defective goods or services you are obliged to pay for all foreseeable resulting loss and expense. That is the common law, pre-dating any sale of goods act.
Licences for selling software and downloaded products
If you own a physical product, you can sell it only once. Not so with intellectual property. In law, you “sell” a right to use software or a downloaded product by way of grant of a licence. Every T&C document drawn for a site that allows use of its intellectual property includes a licence in some form. So whenever in these
T&C documents, we consider the sale of software or soft-copy goods we are dealing with a licence, not an outright sale.
Limitations and permissions on licences
Permissions concern simple expressions of duration, territory, market, timescale, and so on. Limitations generally cover what your customer is not allowed to do. Examples are: transfer ownership of his licence to someone else; copy text; allow anyone else to use the software. These points are matters for your choice.
A licence is infinitely variable. You can decide on the term, exclusivity, market, transferability, extent and many more variables. Other options include: sub-licensing, removing ID references and prohibited uses.
Every licence in these documents contains appropriate limitations and permissions. The extent and terms of the licence varies from simple to extremely thorough. What we provide in each licence varies according to the requirement of the product. You can delete what you do not need and add anything referable to your particular business.
Licence terms in these documents are:
professionally drawn and tough in law
useful for both business to business or business to consumer transactions
easy for you to adapt if you need to do so
The law in these terms and conditions templates
The law in these T&C is largely common law that deals with the basics of contracts: offer, acceptance, price and payment, delivery, returns, dispute resolution, liabilities and risk. Provided you comply with the law, you can set the commercial terms you like.
Where your end customer is a consumer, you need to comply with the Consumer Contracts (ICAC) 2013 Regulations, the Consumer Rights Act 2015 and Alternative Dispute Regulations 2015. We have included relevant provisions in our templates that enable you to comply with the law and run your business seamlessly.
Where your customer is a business person, our templates allow you to comply with the Sale of Goods Acts (1979 and 1994).
Where statute law could apply, the T&C have been drawn then applies to specific circumstances, for example, we have included provisions to comply with the Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment Regulations 2013, but these are only relevant if the type of goods sold is electronic or electrical.