Have you recently launched a new online business, or are looking to expand your current business presence online? Starting out online can be difficult if you’re not online savvy. Protect your online business by following these steps:

Business Plan

As with most businesses, a business plan can help structure the stages you wish to reach in terms of business development and growth. What will you need to achieve these goals and ambitions? A website domain? A website? Marketplace functionalities? Merchant facilities? Make a plan so that you can explain your needs to your developer, as well as your online lawyer when you need to have your Business Terms and Conditions drafted.

Once you have mapped the technical side of things, you can start to look at which business structure will be most suitable for your online business. Speak with an online lawyer who can explain the various benefits and drawbacks of each structure, for example that sole traders have the risk of being personally liable but companies are more expensive to run.

Contractors Contract

It is also very important to have a contractors contract in place with your website developer. This agreement is also known as a development agreement, and will flesh out the terms and conditions of the commercial relationship between you and your website developer.

If you do not have connections with developers to help you launch your online business, ask your contacts for recommended developers. Otherwise, you could simply do some research into the websites that you believe reflect what you desire for your own online business and make the necessary enquiries. Keep in mind that the designer of the online business may be different to the developer.

Ask to have a chat with some of their clients to see whether or not the service provided was of a high quality. Have your online lawyer draw up a development agreement that details the particulars of the working relationship, such as pricing, timeframes and stages. If the developer presents you with a development agreement, have your online lawyer review it to ensure that the site itself (including any lines of code) and all intellectual property remain the property of your online business. This should be clearly set out in the Development Agreement to avoid any confusion regarding the expectations of each party.

Legal Documents

Your online business requires a clear and easily identifiable Privacy Policy, a solid set of Business Terms and Conditions, and a well-defined Website Terms of Use. An online lawyer with experience in contract drafting usually drafts these documents. They will not only limit the liability of your online business, but should give your visitors/customers protection as well. There are also legal requirements that you need to be aware of that relate to the Australian Privacy Law and the Australian Consumer Law (“ACL”). For example, certain businesses will need to comply with the new Australian Privacy Principles. Without proper legal compliance with these areas of law, your online business may incur hefty fines from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (“ACCC”), as well as the Privacy Commissioner.

Intellectual Property

Some online businesses operate without any regard to the many intellectual property risks that arise when users of your website upload content which they may not have permission to upload. Failure to monitor the actions of your users may result in your business being involved in a lengthy and complex intellectual property dispute.

Promotional Activities

When running an online business, an important part of the long-term strategy comes back to the marketing of the online business and the SEO that builds up the online presence. In doing so, online business should be aware of the rules relating to spam, such as an opt-out/unsubscribe option for SMS or email marketing.


As you have invested a lot of time and effort into setting up your business, a solid legal foundation with detailed agreements in place will ensure you are protected. If you have any questions relating to online or general business law, contact LegalVision on 1300 544 755.

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