The short answer is Yes – all sites should contain some form of Website Terms and Conditions for their visitors and customers.
The nature of a website will sometimes determine the necessity to have Terms and Conditions on your website. It is strongly recommended that websites that have goods or services for sale or give advice should contain Terms and Conditions. This is in contrast to a simple website disclaimer which could be used for general visitors with less requirement for Terms and Conditions.
A distinction should be made between the two essential types of visitors: customers who may purchase goods and services and users of the website who come only to view and read information which may be posted or contained on your site.
Terms and Conditions should be used and include more conditions for any customer to your website that may purchase goods and services. In contrast, a disclaimer may be sufficient if you are only posting basic information that visitors may come to your site to read and you want to ensure you are not responsible for any reliance they may place on the information.
Another distinguishing factor on some websites, is a requirement, before entry to the site, for visitors and users of the site to agree to Terms and Conditions before entering the site or purchasing goods or services. In this instance, the offer of the Terms and Conditions and a user accepting them is the creation of a contract.
One further illustration of a requirement for a disclaimer to be contained in Terms and Conditions of a website is a site which provides news and information which should ensure protection of the owner of the site by stating that although the site will endeavour to provide the most up to date information, it may not always be accurate. This protection may be done through either a single disclaimer or a better protection would a disclaimer contained in Terms and Conditions of the website.
From this brief outline it is highly recommended as a minimum protection measure that those websites providing goods and services to clients should be using Terms and Conditions. The terms may be more extensive depending on the owner of site’s risk appetite but in any event, will inevitably lead to a greater reduction in risk.
For example, making it clear though the terms of the site that you are not taking responsibility for goods after they physically leave the shippers possession, shifts the risk of damage at time of shipment to the buyer.
Another important reason to consider the importance of ensuring your website has Terms and Conditions when your site provides specific goods or services online is because there are potential customers all around the world.
If a Website in Sydney has a customer in Bahrain for example, the owner of the site will want to ensure that the contract is on their terms and the laws of New South Wales (or Australia) will apply. By having Terms and Conditions, it protects the owners of the site by ensuring all customers are accepting the same standards and terms illustrated on the website, which is a protection for the website owner.
This also will ensure that the website is following, and in compliance with the laws of where it is based as laws regarding what services or goods are provided will likely differ between jurisdictions in addition to certain regulatory requirements for all websites generally such as Privacy Policies.
A website owner would not want to enter into a contract with a customer that may be illegal or fraught with issues and be subjected to laws where the customer is based but not where the website is based.