Every site should have some type of Website Terms and Conditions, even if they are not very extensive. This is an approach that should be taken to limit the liability of the website owner.
As a website owner cannot control who accesses their site, they cannot control how the information on the site may be interpreted and used.
Very generally, a website’s Terms and Conditions are a preventative measure against foreseeable and unforeseeable claims which may be made against the website as a result of the site being accessed and utilized in some way by visitors to the site. This utilization ranges from use of the information listed on the site to receiving goods or services from the website.
Terms and conditions are used and necessary to protect a website owner from liability of a user relying on the information or the goods provided from the site then suffering a loss. An example is a site that provides a comment stating certain securities may increase in value.
Any site doing this should always provide a very strongly worded terms and conditions clause stating it is opinion only and not advice and excluding their liability of someone relying on their information, if that person in turn suffers a loss.
Another common example is where a website offers goods for sale. These terms should outline that the goods are only be for a certain purpose as represented in the site and makes it clear that the seller bears no responsibility for the consequences of their misuse.
Agreeing to Terms and Conditions …
Many visitors and users of websites will notice that when accessing certain sites, prior to a purchase or logging into various websites there is a requirement to first accept terms and conditions in order to access the site or conclude the purchase.
These terms and conditions vary from site to site. Regardless of the website, there is inevitably some type of regulatory or legal framework that must be followed depending on the industry. A websites’ adherence to these frameworks is usually reflected in the terms and conditions and may require more specific terms and conditions to comply.
For example, websites involved in the online pharmaceutical industry, fitness or health industries or anything providing advice, would have and require very extensive terms and conditions. This would also be the case in the instance of any site with highly regulated requirements such as sites relating to banking and finance or, sale of goods, both of which would require more specific terms and conditions to comply.
Regardless of the size of the website, its use or the services provided, there should be a governing framework and a fundamental way to ensure that the website is complying with the framework is to include terms and conditions as part of good website governance.
This is an important way to let a visitor or user know the terms and conditions of the service and constitute a contract with the user and minimize website owner risk in addition to managing user and visitor expectations.