How legal is yor websiteBusiness owners invest valuable time developing and marketing products and services. We have to outpace our competition. Our websites have the latest product information and offerings-Great! But occasionally we lose track of other important aspects that, if not managed properly, can be a massive headache.

One of these is the legal “Terms and Conditions” on our websites. Some might think, “No problem. I will copy another website’s Terms & Conditions; and hand them to my webmaster – sorted!” Sadly that is easier said than done.

This post’s aim is to guide website owners on the importance of proper terms and conditions.

Legal Requirements for Website Terms and Conditions:

Legislation makes it compulsory to provide information to visitors and users of a website.

According to the Electronic Communications and Transaction Act (ECT) it is the responsibility of website owners to display the following information:

a.    Description of the goods and services.
b.    Price and Payment Terms.
c.    Delivery times.
d.    Guarantee and return policies.
e.    Security procedure and privacy policy in respect of payment, payment information and personal information.

It also states “If the supplier or service provider fails to provide the required information, the consumer may cancel the transaction within 14 days of receiving the goods or service”.

But the buck doesn’t stop here…

The Consumer Protection Act exacerbates it. The website owner must make the user aware of inherent risk in using the website, or when sharing information with it. Everything must be in plain language without unnecessary legal jargon.

One might ask; “What risk and information is the act referring to; and how is this applicable to my business if at all?”

Attorney, Steven Ferguson explains that a well-crafted set of Terms and Conditions, and Privacy Policy for a website, especially e-commerce enabled sites; is legally essential. It provides clarity and transparency to visitors and users, which enhances the trust they have in the sites they visit. This will encourage them to do business or share more valuable information with the web site owner.

Indeed clients, customers and consumers are increasingly aware of their legal rights when conducting business. It is your responsibility as website owner, to ensure that your potential clients are aware of your company policies.

In 2013 the Protection of Personal Information Bill will become law. Website owners will be required by law to ensure that relevant notices are posted on their websites.

It is clear that government and industry are taking legal requirements for websites seriously.

To conclude

It is said “Rather safe than sorry”, and at Masterweb we encourage our clients to seek legal advice on their website Terms and Conditions.

Our strategic partner, Attorney Steven Ferguson is able to guide businesses with legal requirements for their websites.

Credits:  Attorney Steven Ferguson is a managing partner at Nicci Ferguson Attorneys. He specialises in Intellectual Property and hosts workshops about the Protection of Personal Information Bill (POPI).

Steven’s Contact number: 082 571 2574

Posted by By Fritz Els, 4 February 2013