With the emergence of the internet as a primary platform for business transactions and a primary forum for marketing, the importance of a website having functional terms and conditions of use cannot be underplayed.

It is a common misperception that due to the disconnected, intangible and impersonal nature of online transactions and discourse the inclusion of T&C’s on a website serves no real function, other than a vague legal cushion should something go awry between the website operator and a user. In reality these T&C’s, or terms of use (used interchangeably), are vitally important and provide the firm legal basis for your business’ online presence. Just as it is advisable that all business relationships and transactions in the real world be governed or underpinned by formal legal documents, so too should a business’s online operations have a proper legal foundation.

The reasons are many and varied. Not only do clear and concise T&C’s bring a professional and formal element to a business’ online presence, they serve to concretise what is an already detached relationship between the business and its online user/customer. They furthermore serve to ensure proper compliance with whatever legal regulatory framework may be applicable to the business’ online operations, including the protection of both the business’ and its user’s intellectual property, privacy and confidential information. Most importantly, they provide the legal framework to be utilised in the event of a dispute arising between the parties.

It is accordingly imperative to ensure that your business’ online presence and operations are not exposed to unnecessary risk when same can be easily avoided. A business’ online T&C’s should ideally be highly visible or accessible to the user when arriving on the landing page, easily understood, capable of specific acceptance by the user prior to a transaction taking place, and be specifically tailored to suit the defined nature of the business’s online operations and target market. The days of merely having a small hyper-link at the bottom of your business’ webpage navigating the user to a disjointed and confusing set of incomprehensible legal jargon are well and truly over.

David du Plessis
C & A Friedlander Inc.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

Online terms & conditions of use – rather be safe than sorry
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