The Importance of Website Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policies

Tags: Privacy Policy, Terms and Conditions, Website Policy

By Ioanna Moliviatis, Intern at Interpret Legal at Evyenia Walton, Director.

Terms and conditions combined with a well written privacy policy creates an online agreement and buffer between you and your customers using your website.[1] This agreement ensures that users are informed and are to comply with what is outlined in your terms in order to use your website and/or services.[2]

Terms and Conditions

Although terms and conditions are tailored to each company there are some key elements that should be covered to ensure that any terms and conditions are working to their full potential for the benefit of your website, business and brand.

Key elements that can be covered in terms and conditions include:

  • an explanation of the function of your company’s business and website;
  • Outlining the goods and services that you offer;
  • Your payment terms and establishing expectations around GST or other taxes;
  • Setting out delivery costs and whether they are inclusive or otherwise;
  • Any obligations around memberships or subscription services that you offer;
  • How your website/ online store/ service offering is to be used; and
  • Your rights to terminate the end-user/ client’s access to your website or services.

You can address late payment repercussions including late fees and potential legal action for recovery.[3] Warranties are a good area to cover in terms and conditions as this may include whether you accept returns of goods and termination of goods and services. [4] This is important for you and your customers to understand as it relates to rights under the Australian Consumer Law.[5] Furthermore, other areas of importance such as website disclaimers, liability limitations[6] and if applicable any age restrictions can be included.

Privacy Policies

Whilst terms and conditions are important, privacy policies should also be available to your customers. Privacy policies are essential to have when taking into consideration the surge in protecting privacy online. When taking this into consideration it is evident that a business regardless of how big or small should put importance on protecting their interests and ensuring transparency with their online customers. This can be achieved through a clear and concise privacy policy being available on your website. Not only does a privacy policy benefit your business but also helps in assuring your customers that your business is compliant with Australian law. [7] That you are a reputable business and importantly that you are aware of the importance of privacy and security of your customers information.

Areas that should be covered in your privacy policy are how you collect and store information from a customer. Outlining the grounds as to why you collect and store this data.[8] The process for a customer to access and edit this data. A statement within your policy that establishes client’s information will not be sold to other companies. Their legal rights if a breach does occur of the Australian Privacy Principles[9] and your updated and correct contact details.[10]

Conclusion

Having both a privacy policy and terms and conditions on your website enhances your business’s credibility and sets out how your customers/end users data will be used, and how their experience with your business (via your website) will be navigated. By investing the time and expense in having your terms and conditions, privacy policy, and other policies or legal documents drafted by a lawyer at the outset, will help you avoid spending time on handling potential legal issues that can arise from not having these in place. Thus, giving you the comfort of knowing that these things are taken care of, which gives you more time on running, expanding and developing your business and your customer experience. 

[1] Scott Legal, ‘7 reasons why Terms and Conditions are important to your business’ (April 2020).[2] David Klein, ‘The Importance of Website Terms and Conditions’ (December 2013).[3] Legal Vision, ‘Website Terms of Use, Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy’ <https://legalvision.com.au/website-terms-of-use-and-privacy-policy/>.[4] Scott Legal, ‘7 reasons why Terms and Conditions are important to your business’ (April 2020).[5] Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth).[6] Legal Vision, ‘Website Terms of Use, Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy’ <https://legalvision.com.au/website-terms-of-use-and-privacy-policy/>.[7] Privacy Act 1988 (Cth).[8] OAIC, ‘What is a privacy policy’ Australian Government. [9] Privacy Act 1988 (Cth).[10] Vanessa Emilio, ‘How to Write a Privacy Policy for Your Website’ (April 2021).

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