Does Your Website Have Terms And Conditions

Date Added 01.06.16

Also called Ts and Cs or Terms of Use, terms and conditions are a means of setting out the rules by which the user agrees to use your website and or services. These will vary depending on the nature of your business and the purpose of your site. Setting out a terms and conditions agreement effectively creates a contract between the website operator and the website user and allows the operator to clearly outline rules of the website usage.

All websites should  include clear and concise terms and conditions, not only to allow users to understand how they are permitted to interact with the website but this is also the ideal place to include disclosures required by law. For example, legislation in the UK states that businesses must display certain Company Information i.e. the business name, place of registration, registered number, registered office address, if it is a member of a trade association or professional body and, if applicable, its VAT number. It is also a legal requirement that websites must obtain the user’s consent to leave cookies on the user’s computer unless the cookie is a necessary requirement for the website to function.

Terms and conditions should also be used to protect the content and intellectual property of your website, for instance, prohibiting the copying of any of the data within the site, and they should stipulate other ways in which your website may and may not be used. Other provisions often included in terms and conditions are limitations on liability in terms of site usage.

The terms and conditions should be tailored to the website’s target audience so, for example, if it is a consumer facing website then the terms and conditions should take account of relevant consumer protection legislation and in all cases it should include a link to the new online dispute resolution platform.

A privacy policy is also essential and can be incorporated into the terms of use or can be a separate document. The privacy policy will set out how you, the website owner, will collect data about visitors to the website, what data will be collected, how this data will be used by you, how individuals can find out from you what data you hold about them and whether or not you intend to share this data to any third parties.

In order to ensure legal compliance, alongside the terms and conditions and privacy policy all websites should include and address the following;

  • Registered Information
  • Cookie Policy
  • Equality Act 2010

Any website not addressing these may be leaving its owner open to civil or possibly even criminal liability. Where websites are concerned, civil liability is more likely, for example, using third party text and images without proper permission could lead to claims of copyright infringement.

This article provides a basic overview only of why terms and conditions are important and what they should include. To ensure your website is fully compliant it is recommended that you seek expert legal advice.

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