Many businesses look to use the terms and conditions of other businesses when they are working out which legal documents they need on their website. This is a rookie error and should be avoided at all costs. Your business terms and conditions are your business’ most important legal document. They need to work for your specific business; not someone else’s! A good set of business terms and conditions don’t just reduce your legal risk; they are a sales tool. If customers see that you’re a serious business they will be more likely to purchase your goods or services.
There are many reasons why using another businesses terms and conditions will not provide your business with adequate protection, including the following.
- Your business is unique
You have a unique business with unique clients. Having a small business solicitor assist with the drafting of unique, tailored terms and conditions should really be at the top of your priority list. This contract constitutes a legally binding agreement between you and your clients. By using another business’ tailored terms, you risk the contract between you and your clients being unenforceable. If a client is unhappy with some aspect of the business, such as the goods or services, they can sue you. Without adequate terms and conditions, your business will be exposed to a greater level of risk.
The Courts will firstly interpret the legal relationship between your business and its customers by examining the business terms and conditions, along with any other relevant legal documents. When the Court discovers the unoriginality of your business terms and conditions, they might become legally unenforceable and you may end up facing huge legal costs that you never anticipated, all because you were lazy and chose not pay for your own legal work. Avoid this nightmare by contacting a small business solicitor.
- Copyright Infringement
Believe it or not, another business’ terms and conditions also constitute part of the business’ intellectual property – specifically its copyright. Copying terms and conditions can land you in court and get your business into serious trouble. This is especially the case for businesses that try to copy terms and conditions from a foreign site. It goes without saying that you would not be comfortable sharing your business ideas with one of your competitors and the same can be said for their legal documents. If they went to the trouble and expense of paying a small business solicitor to draft these terms from scratch, you would be wise to do the same for your own business.
- The ACCC
The ACCC has recently begun cracking down on businesses that do not comply with current Australian Consumer Law (“ACL”). Many businesses that do not have terms and conditions that make sense i.e. they are confusing or misleading, will end up facing penalties for not addressing the various ACL requirements, such as consumer guarantees. A small business solicitor looks at your business, its products and services, and overall model, and crafts bespoke terms and conditions that are uniquely fitted to your business. This prevents any consumer confusion and will generally boost consumer confidence in your business.
The reason the ACCC has lifted its enforcement game is because consumers are more and more vulnerable to issues surrounding privacy of confidential information, misinformation and compensation (consumer guarantees). In Australia, consumers and businesses alike have a very high awareness of the existence of the ACL, meaning more and more consumer are asserting their rights and reporting non-compliant businesses to the ACCC or other regulatory bodies.