Operating an online business means that it’s possible that anyone in the world may be able to access it. This is good for business, but this is also where it gets tricky from a legal perspective. If you are possibly providing goods or services to everyone in the world, you’ll need to start considering all the laws in the world too. So which law will override the other? This article will provide a few points on the governing law, jurisdiction and the conflict of laws.

The Dilemma

International online transactions pose a dilemma when it comes to disputes as various laws may apply to each transaction. The laws may vary according to several factors. For example, the parties’ location or the location of where the legal issues may have arisen. When it comes to goods, another location that may be considered is the place from where the goods are delivered.

Making the Governing Law and Jurisdiction Clear

In most instances, online businesses take the necessary steps to draft business terms and conditions for their website. These terms and conditions should have the relevant clauses that note down the governing law and the jurisdiction that will be used for each transaction. The governing law refers to the laws that will apply to the transaction. The jurisdiction refers to the court where a dispute may be heard if one were to arise. If there are no business terms and conditions, parties to an online transaction may need to fork out extra legal costs in simply determining the above issue.

Overseas Laws May Still Apply

Despite an express governing law provision, it is still possible that the laws in another country would apply to an online transaction. This may relate to the legality of the goods or services on offer. It is helpful to include terms in your business terms and conditions that place the responsibility on your customer to ensure it is lawful to access your online business in their country.

Overseas Judgments in Australia

If a matter were heard in an overseas jurisdiction, the Foreign Judgments Act 1991 (Cth) (the Act) allows for certain foreign judgments to be enforced in Australia. A number of countries allow for registrations of judgments. Once a judgment is registered, there is a possibility to enforce the judgment domestically as well. This is important to know in case a party brings an action against you in an overseas jurisdiction. Some countries in the Act include the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Japan, Korea, Singapore, France, Italy and Germany. To register an Australian judgment overseas may be more difficult. A lawyer in the country where the judgment is to be registered will be needed.

Key Takeaways

Online businesses operate in an area that increasingly exposes them to international transactions. The conflict of laws can be avoided using well-drafted business terms and conditions. This is often a pre-emptive approach that will help ensure that in the case of a dispute, matters can be governed by Australian law and heard in Australian courts.

Questions about how to sell goods overseas? Get in touch. 

COVID-19 Business Survey
LegalVision is conducting a survey on the impact of COVID-19 for businesses across Australia. The survey takes 2 minutes to complete and all responses are anonymous. We would appreciate your input. Take the survey now.

About LegalVision: LegalVision is a tech-driven, full-service commercial law firm that uses technology to deliver a faster, better quality and more cost-effective client experience.

The majority of our clients are LVConnect members. By becoming a member, you can stay ahead of legal issues while staying on top of costs. For just $199 per month, membership unlocks unlimited lawyer consultations, faster turnaround times, free legal templates and members-only discounts.

Learn more about LVConnect

Kristine Biason
Need Legal Help? Get a Free Fixed-Fee Quote

If you would like to receive a free fixed-fee quote or get in touch with our team, fill out the form below.

  • By submitting this form, you agree to receive emails from LegalVision and can unsubscribe at any time. See our full Privacy Policy.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Our Awards
  • 2019 Top 25 Startups - LinkedIn 2019 Top 25 Startups - LinkedIn
  • 2019 NewLaw Firm of the Year - Australian Law Awards 2019 NewLaw Firm of the Year - Australian Law Awards
  • 2020 Fastest Growing Law Firm - Financial Times APAC 500 2020 Fastest Growing Law Firm - Financial Times APAC 500
  • 2020 AFR Fast 100 List - Australian Financial Review 2020 AFR Fast 100 List - Australian Financial Review
  • 2020 Law Firm of the Year Finalist - Australasian Law Awards 2020 Law Firm of the Year Finalist - Australasian Law Awards
  • Most Innovative Law Firm - 2019 Australasian Lawyer 2019 Most Innovative Firm - Australasian Lawyer
Privacy Policy Snapshot

We collect and store information about you. Let us explain why we do this.

What information do you collect?

We collect a range of data about you, including your contact details, legal issues and data on how you use our website.

How do you collect information?

We collect information over the phone, by email and through our website.

What do you do with this information?

We store and use your information to deliver you better legal services. This mostly involves communicating with you, marketing to you and occasionally sharing your information with our partners.

How do I contact you?

You can always see what data you’ve stored with us.

Questions, comments or complaints? Reach out on 1300 544 755 or email us at info@legalvision.com.au

View Privacy Policy