November 23, 2017

Tips for how and when to use Terms and Conditions

Updated: 4 May 2022

Four tips for using terms and conditions

Knowing how to use terms and conditions for your business is important.

Why?

Because it can save you legal headaches.

So which terms and conditions do you need? And when should you display them?

In this post, I share my tips.

Tip 1: When to display your Terms and Conditions

You should display your terms and conditions where your customers can see them before they purchase your goods or services. This is so you can avoid a customer saying they weren't aware of how your business works before they paid.

Keep in mind, sometimes you don't have a choice in the matter.

 Some industry regulators require that you present customers with terms and conditions before you start work. Australian lawyers have this requirement.

Tip 2: How should you display them?

a. In person

You can hand your customer a copy of your terms and conditions in person before your customer pays for your product or service.

In particular, if your product or service is complex or expensive, it is good practice to give your client time to review them and acknowledge receipt.

b. Online

Displaying your terms online before your customer reaches the checkout is good practice. Your terms and conditions should be on a separate page with a link to them, usually in the footer. There is no need for a customer to confirm they have read them as their continued use of your website implies the user has read them.

Also using a link to your terms and conditions with a checkbox for your customer to tick to confirm their understanding and agreement with your terms is also ideal before they checkout.

You can even make the checkbox acknowledgement a mandatory step before the customer pays. This allows you to confirm the customer has read, understood and agreed to your terms and conditions before payment. You also have a record of their agreement.

If you sell online but not using an ecommerce website, you can provide a link to your terms at the beginning of any electronic quote or invoice before displaying the payment amount.

A sample notice of your terms is below:

"By paying this invoice, I understand and agree to the terms and conditions [attached/in this link]".

Tip 3: What your terms should cover

Broadly, your terms should cover how you will deliver goods or services, and protect your business.

Following is a list of terms to include:

a. Product delivery:

  • Purchase procedure—including payment, delivery, right to refuse service
  • Product inclusions.

b. Business protection:

  • Liability disclaimers— such as service interruption, errors, viruses, security breaches, personal injury
  • Refunds
  • Dispute resolution
  • Intellectual property
  • Termination for breach of your terms.

Tip 4: What happens in situations outside your control?

The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us all valuable lessons. Lockdowns, border closures and slow delivery services are common. Disrupting the delivery of goods across the world.

Consider adding a clause to your terms and conditions that explicitly addresses this situation and to legally relieve you from liability for events outside of your control. You may already have ‘Acts of God’ included in your terms to cover fire and flood. It is a good idea to specifically also mention a pandemic/epidemic as well. If you are not sure of the legalities, talk to your lawyer.

Do you have questions or comments about terms and conditions? Be sure to leave them below.

I wish you success in your ventures!





About the author 

Vivian Michael

As founder and lawyer at Michael Law Group, Vivian advises Australia's top entrepreneurs on business and employment matters. Clients benefit from Vivian's commercially focussed and pragmatic legal advice, business experience, and commitment to deliver the best quality business legal services to her clients.

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