Websites that give some type of advice or provide goods or services should have both a Website Terms and Conditions and Disclaimer on their site.
A website disclaimer is necessary to ensure a site’s information is not improperly relied upon and can protect the owner from various claims by visitors and customers to the website. One difference between the two is that the website disclaimer whilst used more frequently, is less protection whereas website terms and conditions are more specific and normally include a disclaimer as part of the terms.
As such, if a website has terms and conditions, there is no need to also include a disclaimer as in most instances, the website Terms and Conditions will normally include disclaimer information. However, for added protection and, in particular, if you are concerned about your liability due to the type of goods or services you may be providing or even just to ensure you are additionally protected, you may wish to include the website disclaimer in addition to your terms and conditions of use from a risk management perspective.
Some websites will require a visitor to the site to accept a disclaimer or terms in order to access the site. For example, if a website is in the business of selling alcohol by email order, before entering the website, a visitor may need to verify their age and by doing so, accept either a disclaimer of liability or certain terms and conditions of the website in order to access it and place any order or purchase.
Other common instances where terms and conditions may be used as a requirement to purchase is when entering a website to purchase a product or service, a customer may be first required to accept the terms and conditions by entering information or clicking a button prior to purchasing the service or any product.
A website disclaimer is used more frequently, and generally should be included on all websites as a minimum requirement for anyone setting up a website, particularly with an online business. A disclaimer will generally state that a website will endeavour to ensure all of the information is updated and correct, however, if a person relies on the information and suffers loss as a result, the site will not be liable for any unanticipated or unforeseen loss, or, alternatively, the disclaimer may state that use of the website and reliance on the information on the website is done at the visitor’s own risk.
The website disclaimer is a recommended inclusion for any website, irrespective of the business, as information changes regularly and even the most diligent websites may not update this information immediately as it becomes available. Therefore by including a disclaimer, and as there is no way of controlling when or who accesses the information, a website owner will gain some protection from foreseeable and unforeseeable liability of those relying on the site’s information. This does not mean you can post whatever you like on your website-there are laws which you must abide by with respect to such things as defamation, false and misleading information and many consumer protection laws to consider.
In summary, each individual website will need to determine site inclusions that are most appropriate to their website, products and circumstances to minimize their risks. Essentially, the rule of thumb is that, at minimum, there should be a disclaimer on all sites and for any site providing and selling products, services or advice there should additionally be terms and conditions relating specifically to what that site is providing.