Ticking off your T&Cs

With Christmas just around the corner and online shopping increasing year on year; Kathryn O'Hagan, Solicitor within our Corporate / Commercial team looks at the importance of a robust set of Terms & Conditions to protect yourbusiness and the consumer.

Date: Dec 12, 2022

As we come closer to Christmas, many of us will have started (if not completed) our Christmas shopping for 2022. I think it is also safe to assume that most of us, myself included, will have done most of our shopping online through our mobile phones or laptops. The ease of simply clicking a button from the comfort of our sofa has become so much more appealing than fighting through crowded streets in the cold and wet.

Online-shopping was always popular, however the recent increase in consumer online presence was accelerated by the pandemic. Following the in-person shopping restrictions of lockdown, many customers turned to online-shopping to fulfil their shopping desires and this trend has not slowed down.

In 2021, over 2.14 billion people shopped online. This accounts for 27.6% of the world’s total population. This was an increase of 4.4% on the year before which translated into 900 million additional people buying online. In the UK, online sales now account for around one quarter of the total retail market. This is predicted to increase to one third by 2024.

The speedy influx of new technology in the retail experience has driven consumers to expect a convenient and connected experience that seamlessly aligns with their everyday busy lives.

Online Terms and Conditions

What does this mean for business owners? If you are a business owner, and either have or have decided to set up a website, you should consider having a robust set of online terms and conditions (“T&Cs”).

You might wonder whether your business should have online T&Cs, I mean does anyone ever fully read them? T&Cs might not be a legal requirement like a Privacy Policy, however, having them on your website can be considered the smartest thing to avoid the consequences of misunderstanding and confusion between you and your customers.

T&Cs are used to protect intellectual property rights, limit or exclude liability and establish a contractual framework governing the relationship between a business and its customers or clients.

T&Cs should provide clarity over every potential situation that may arise in the course of you doing business. Typical T&Cs will tend to include:

  • a clear explanation of what products or services you will be providing;
  • payment terms, including when payment will fall due;
  • details of any interest which will accrue on late payment;
  • any relevant timelines for delivery of your products/services;
  • any relevant guarantees or warranties;
  • what action can be taken if you do not deliver or the customer does not pay promptly;
  • what will happen if either party wants to end the relationships and any notice period/cancellation fees for doing so; and
  • the relevant laws governing the transaction, particularly if business will extend across borders.

T&Cs often don’t get that much attention, so many website owners often end up copying and pasting from others, thinking that the visitors to their website will ultimately accept all the T&Cs without even giving a glance. As tempting as this may seem, this can create wrong impressions with customers, and in case if you are in dispute, you will face a lot of trouble for adding such T&Cs which are not even related to your business.

There is no ‘one size fits all’ model when it comes to drafting T&Cs. Your website’s T&Cs should be tailored to your own particular business to create an explicit agreement with your visitors or customers no matter whether they read it or not.

Setting up the terms and conditions for an online website can be challenging but the Mills Selig commercial team have extensive experience in this area. Please get in touch and we would be happy to assist you.

Editorial prepared by Kathryn O’Hagan, Solicitor, Corporate / Commercial @ Mills Selig

Kathryn O’Hagan , Solicitor, Corporate / Commercial
Kathryn works within the Corporate team at Mills Selig.

Kathryn has experience assisting with corporate and commercial transactions, including company incorporations, reorganisations, share sales, reviewing commercial contracts and drafting key ancillary corporate documents.

T: 028 9044 5447
E: Kathryn.O’Hagan@MillsSelig.com

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