Website Policies

Why you need website policies

Nearly every single business has an online presence these days, even if they do not sell through their website. Whether it’s just a landing page and a blog or a complete site with online store, links, newsletters and detailed product descriptions, any online presence means you are putting information out into the ‘public domain’, and potentially collecting information from visitors. If you also sell products via the website, you will be required to provide your terms and conditions of supply as well as the website’s own terms of use. Just as importantly, you’ll need to reassure your customers that their own information is protected, especially if we’re talking about personal details.

And what about you ? You will certainly want to rule out other people using your material.

An opportunity to set it down in black and white

Putting together a website policy and online T&Cs is a great opportunity for you to settle on the general trading terms and conditions that will apply throughout your business, ensure that the business is streamlined and that the website reflects this. You should consider a minimum of terms and conditions of supply, privacy policy and cookie policy.

What happens if there are no website terms and conditions?

If you’ve only just become aware of your legal obligations to have clearly defined website policies and T&Cs then the temptation can be to simply cut and paste the terms and conditions from a similar business. This might save you an hour or two in the short term, but could come back to haunt you and your business further down the line. The policies you cut and paste from another business could be out of date, designed for a completely different business scenario, or simply not up to the job.

Inadequate or absent terms and conditions could also result in:
  • A complaint to the Information Commissioner regarding the collection and use of data, including data used to process a sale and/or market, which could land you in big trouble under the Data Protection Act.
  • A failure to comply with the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 as well as running into problems with the Sale of Goods Act 1977, Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 and potentially the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977 may result in complaints or, worse still, costly legal proceedings.
  • You may wish to restrict the use of intellectual property, and how visitors interact with the website e.g. forums, blogs or product reviews. This will be difficult to manage if there are no clearly laid out terms.
  • Your reputation could be at stake, too. Without clear and legally compliant terms online, anyone who thinks about doing business with you will suspect you’re trying to ‘hide something’ and may be reluctant to deal with you at all.

You can protect your interests both off and online with a simple yet robust set of terms and conditions, using a joined-up approach to how you trade in the digital world.

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Vanessa Challess

Vanessa Challess

Managing Partner at InHouse Legals
Vanessa is the founder and Managing Partner of InHouse Legals and Tiger Law. With years of experience as a litigation specialist, she founded IHL and Tiger to provide SME business owners with easier, more affordable access to the essential legal services they need as their business grows and develops. She blogs on a wide range of legal & HR issues with the goal of equipping entrepreneurs with no frills, easy to understand information to keep them on the right side of the law.
Vanessa Challess

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