The small print – Website Terms and Conditions

Is the legal mumbo jumbo at the bottom of websites really necessary, does anyone even read it, you’re just a small business, why spend money on this? This article sets out why it is important.
Terms and Conditions

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Website Terms and Conditions – is the legal mumbo jumbo at the bottom of websites really necessary? Does anyone even read it? You’re just a small business, why spend money on this?

If you are wondering… keep reading…

Terms and Conditions Overview

The terms and conditions page sets out the rules for using your website. There is no legal requirement to have one but should a dispute ever arise between you and a website user (for example around your intellectual property, copyrights, items a client bought, refunds or information you used) such a document protects your rights as the website owner as it creates a contractual relationship. A website user is bound to your terms and conditions when accessing and using your website. Properly drafted terms and conditions limits your liability and protects your content.

Standard Terms

Although the specifics around your website and the use thereof may be unique, some terms are standard and important to be included.

1. Age Restriction

Best practice is to include a part relating to the age of the user, in South Africa, the age of majority is 18 years old and as the user is concluding a contract with you, by accepting your terms and conditions, they need to warrant that they have the required legal capacity or their guardian’s consent to do so.

2. Limit Liability

Include a disclaimer removing your liability from any errors in your content.
If your website contains links to other website not owned or managed by you, also limit your liability here should a user suffer damages for clicking on such a link.
Protect yourself from any security breaches.

3. Intellectual Property

Protect your intellectual property, the user cannot just save a picture, logo etc and use it for any reason.
E-Commerce
If your website has an e-commerce side, make sure you include how you deal with refunds, returns, stock availability, delivery and product quality.

4. Abuse

You should also set out what you will not tolerate on your website, spamming, malware, harmful language etc and the consequences thereof (for example terminating an account).

5. Privacy

If you are collecting any type of personal information from your customers (for example a name, email address, delivery address or credit card information), you must have a privacy policy (or clause around privacy in your terms and condition) as the user needs to consent to such use and your need to set out the purpose of such use.
Privacy of personal information in South Africa is governed by the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI), each country or region has their own set of rules and laws around privacy.

6. Governing Law

If something goes wrong, you don’t want to be sued by a user out of a Chinese court, set the governing law to the country you are in to avoid any doubt.

Bottom line

Rather spend the upfront costs by getting an experienced attorney to draft you the necessary terms and conditions and privacy policy, than getting a surprise law suit one day which may cost you your business.

Disclaimer

The information set out herein is provided for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice from any lawyer or representative of our firm.
Professional legal advice should therefore be sought before any action is taken based on the information set out herein.
Sandenbergh Vosloo Attorneys do not accept any responsibility for actions taken without due consultation and no person shall have any claim of any nature whatsoever arising out of, or in connection with, the contents hereof against Sandenbergh Vosloo Attorneys and/or any of its partners and/or employees.

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