Terms and conditions (T&Cs) are the terms of the legal contract between your business and your customers for the supply of goods or services that sets out the rights and obligations of the parties. This agreement governs the relationship with your clients and is essential when starting your online business.
What you must include in your T&Cs depends on different factors, such as your business type, your potential customers (consumers only, business only – or both), which service or product is being offered, among others. However, the following terms should generally be included in any agreement.
- Acceptance of the T&Cs: include an acceptance clause indicating how users can accept the T&Cs, and explain that the document is a legal contract between the parties that will govern the scope of the relationship. You must also inform users that they should only access or purchase your services or register an account if they agree to your T&Cs.
- Information about your business: provide clear and accurate information about your business, including its legal name, registered address, and contact details. Typically, you can place this information at the top of your terms and conditions (e.g., "who we are" section).
- Description of the services or products: provide adequate, concise and transparent information about what you are offering to your clients. This should include comprehensive information about the products or services, including their main characteristics, specifications, limitations, and any relevant health and safety warnings. You may also include disclaimers about the products or services you sell. For example, if you are selling medical products, you can state that people should seek medical advice before purchasing your products.
- Price and payment terms: provide information about the purchase price of the product or service and how the payment process works. For example, describe how the final price will be displayed to the customer, including all taxes, fees and charges, etc. As well as setting out how customers can pay (e.g., accepted payment methods and payment steps), provide information about your payment terms, and the consequences of late or non-payment.
- Delivery and shipping: clearly describe information about your shipping and delivery policy, including when customers can expect to receive or access the product or services, if there are any shipping costs, who bear such costs, and when the customer becomes liable for the goods.
- Right of withdrawal: consumers purchasing goods online in the UK and in the EU must have a right of withdrawal (also known as a cooling-off period) of 14 days, during which they can return the goods for any reason. You must inform your consumers about such right, how they can exercise it, and any applicable exceptions. If you don't, the period to exercise the right of withdrawal can be extended for an additional 12 months (on top of the original 14-day period).
- Guarantees or warranties: provide information about any guarantees or warranties offered, what options your customers have, and how they can exercise such rights.
- Refund policy: explain what happens if the customer requests a refund, how the process works and how such a request is processed by your business.
- Termination and changes to the T&Cs: clarify how parties can terminate the relationship and what notice is required (if any). Also, explain how and when you can change the T&Cs, and how such changes will be communicated.
- Other important information: it is always beneficial when parties know what will happen if something goes wrong. So, include information in your T&Cs about your liability and indemnification, how you'll handle complaints and disputes and what law will govern the contract. For example, you can describe to what extent your business is liable if something goes wrong due to the services or products being offered and any applicable limitations, and indemnifications. You should also state what happens if there is a dispute and what dispute resolution method should be followed first (e.g. mediation or arbitration). As for EU customers, inform them about the EU Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) platform.
As mentioned, the information you'll need to provide and the level of detail depend on several factors, such as your business type, the products or services you offer, your potential clients as well as target countries or regions. The above list contains only some of the information that may be required. Some or all may apply to your business. If you are in any doubt, seek legal advice.
It's important for business to have clear, concise terms and conditions available to consumers that are tailored to your business needs.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.