The website terms and conditions set out in your online store represent the agreement between your business and the customer. When implementing your terms and conditions there are many considerations. While we address a few below you should engage the services of a commercial and technology lawyer before you go live.
5 key sets of terms and conditions for any online store include:
When the contract is formed
With the popularity of drop shipping consideration of when the contract is formed has become more important than ever. The formation of a valid contract requires both an offer and acceptance of that offer.
When you walk into Woolworths and see a pack of Tim Tams for sale that price tag on the shelf is not an offer, its an invitation to treat. When you take the Tim Tams to the till you are making the offer which Woolworths can accept or reject.
The same applies to online stores, so long as you draft the terms and conditions correctly. You may for instance only accept and offer from a customer once you can confirm you have the item in stock, or in the case of drop shipping once you have confirmed with your supplier the product has been shipped.
It is important to remember an offer can be revoked at any time up until it has been accepted and that acceptance has been communicated. Drafting offer and acceptance terms is therefore, at least in part, a risk balancing act.
Consent to the terms
A customer is not bound by terms and conditions which are only brought to their attention after the contract has been formed. For this reason, you should always obtain an acknowledgement from the customer confirming they agree to the terms and conditions prior to completing the order.
Most e-commerce platforms provide click wrap functionality requiring a user to select a checkbox stating “I Accept” before an order is finalised. Just make sure your checkbox states something like “I agree to the terms and conditions of sale” and provide a link to the terms and conditions.
Privacy and use of personal information
Follow this link to speak to a Privacy Lawyer (Brisbane).
Where you have drafted content for your website, including copy, images and multimedia, you will want to make it clear to consumers that content is protected by your copyright.
If you have coded up the website yourself, the code you wrote is also protected by copyright. Click here for more information about copyright in computer code.
Typically, businesses want to limit their liability as much as they can. However, those limits are regulated by the Australian Consumer Law. Excluding all liability is prohibited under the Australian Consumer Law. Read here for more details.
A commercial and IT lawyer can assist you in getting the right limitation of liabilities clauses for your circumstances. But note they will not look anything like the ones you are thinking about copying from a US website you think looks similar.
Contact Michael Barber for a no obligation discussion about online store terms and conditions. No need to fly solo when you have a trusted business adviser with over 20 years’ experience spanning IT, accounting, business and law only a phone call away.
BSc, Grad Dip IT, Grad Cert Bus Admin, MAcct, LLB(Hons), GDLP, MQLS, FGIA.
Commercial, Corporate and Technology Lawyer
Contact Michael here or call on 07 3356 1245.
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