Some Protection is Better Than None At All

Don't be one of those people who try to avoid any responsibility at all, chance are it won't work.  

We've been looking at your website terms and conditions.  The first thing we looked at was which country's law applies to the use of your website, and why it might be helpful to specify that in your terms and conditions. Then we looked at ways to limit your liability for things that go wrong when people visit your website.

What about liability arising from your products or services? Or limits to what you intend to permit people to do with your products and services?

Most countries have consumer protection laws that imply certain warranties into the supply of goods or services, and those implied warranties cannot be avoided.

I am one of those odd people who actually do read terms and conditions. I find it fascinating to read some of the different terms that people try to include. Some are clearly written by lawyers, others are clearly written by non-lawyers.

I have noticed a tendency to include terms that try to make the website owner liable for nothing at all. Not even that the products meet the description they have provided. Most countries have consumer protection laws which make terms like that unenforceable or void. The problem with trying to go to far is that, as a website owner, you might end up with no protection at all.

When you supply goods or services consumer protection laws often state that the customer should be able to expect that:
 

  • the goods or services are of a marketable quality
  • the goods or services match the description
  • the goods or services are fit for the purpose for which they are purchased
  • the goods or services are delivered within a reasonable time

Rather than trying to avoid responsibility for the reasonable expectations of customers, you are more likely to be successful in limiting your responsibility to the replacement of the goods or services, or payment of the cost of replacement.

What do your terms and conditions say, and do they make sense for your business? Think about where your customers are, what your products are, what you want to protect, your opportunities, your risks and what steps you need to take now.

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