General terms and conditions refer to provisions that you set out in writing. Everything related to the terms and conditions agreement is arranged in the general terms and conditions.
The agreement can be between an entrepreneur and another entrepreneur or between an entrepreneur and a customer. The terms of service can be about liability, making complaints, guarantees, payment methods, etc.
If you want to launch a website or business, it's vital that you come up with a user agreement to protect your business from legal disputes.
But why do you need terms and conditions agreement yet it is not a requirement by law? Who needs to draw up general terms and conditions?
Why Do You Need General Terms and Conditions?
While the law requires you to prepare privacy policies, you don't need to draft terms and conditions.
Your website visitors or customers will know from the start what they are dealing with, the expected user behavior, and what they should and shouldn't do on the site.
The general terms minimize the risk you run as an entrepreneur and limit your liability if there is a legal dispute.
The terms of service can differ depending on various factors, such as the type of business. For instance, the terms of service for an eCommerce platform can be different from the terms of a social media website.
Limitation of Liability
In the general terms and conditions, you will state that you are not responsible for any damages or losses that the user may incur after using your service. You can also state that your web content is meant for informational purposes.
As such, if a user makes a legal claim, you can prove in court that the user was aware and agreed to the terms of service.
If you don't have the terms of service, a lawyer can demonstrate in a court how the lack of terms led to damages to the client.
The general terms and conditions should also contain your payment term for your business.
The legal payment term for invoices is 30 days. However, you can outline in your terms of service your payment terms. For instance, you can state explicitly that you prefer a shorter period of time for your payment, or you can also extend the terms.
Retention of Title
The general terms and conditions should also include retention of the title. This ensures that the entrepreneur reserves the right over the items they deliver as long as the invoice is not yet paid. As such, the owner can reclaim the item.
This is also the case if the other party goes into liquidation or bankruptcy.
The general terms and conditions may not infringe on the guarantees that consumers enjoy.
The terms and conditions are different when you sell to consumers than when you are selling to entrepreneurs.
Writing General Terms and Conditions
While drawing your general terms of service, ensure that you do it correctly from the start. Having properly written terms of service agreement minimizes your risks as an entrepreneur if any disputes arise.
It will also help if you check the terms annually to confirm whether they are still up-to-date.
You use several methods to draw up the terms. For instance, you can draw them yourself, or you can use a terms and conditions generator. You can also enlist a legal professional who will give you legal advice depending on the type of business.
Your customer reserves the right to annul the general terms and conditions for various reasons, including:
- You fail to observe the rules of the agreement, or your terms become unreasonable
- You change your terms abruptly and fail to inform your users clearly and in a timely manner.
So how do you write your terms of service?
Before you can write your terms of service, understand what you need to accomplish with the terms and why you need them.
Understand Your Reasons
Before you can draw your terms of service, you should first understand why you need them in the first place. The terms play various roles, which include limiting your liability, protecting your intellectual copyright rights, preventing abuse of your service by users, etc.
Understanding the reasons ensures you don't limit your legal enforcement powers and claims against your website users.
Set Ground Rules
The second step in preparing to write your terms includes coming up with ground rules. For instance, if you have a photo-sharing website, you can set rules to prevent explicit sexual photos from being shared on your site.
You can also have age limits on who can use your software or mobile app.
Before you can write your terms, you should write down all the rules and limitations that you want on your site and then integrate them as you draft the terms.
Decide Agreement Location
When you are done writing the terms and conditions, you should put them in a visible location.
If you run a website, you can have the terms and conditions accessible through links.
If you have a sign-up form, you should make the acceptance of the terms mandatory before a visitor can sign up for a user account.
You can also post the terms of service links on the website footer, user forums and community sections, FAQ pages, etc.
How Do You Write Terms and Conditions?
When you want to write your terms of service, you can have the following sections. You can have them in the same order to emphasize the vital clauses of the terms.
Introduction and Agreement
The first paragraph in the user agreement should be about the acceptance of the terms. The terms of service agreement will make no sense if the user doesn't accept it. It is advisable to have users accept the terms and conditions during sign-up or login.
You can also use an "I Agree" box where the user will click the box before accessing content.
As you write the terms, you should include a clause that limits your liability in case of a legal claim.
The clause should inform users that you are not liable or responsible for any damage or loss that may result from the use of your service.
You should also inform the users that the content on your site is for informational purposes.
Intellectual Property Rights
If a user has access to your site, it means they have access to your intellectual property. The intellectual property includes the design of your site, logo, web content, etc.
If a user uses your intellectual property without your permission or license, it is treated as infringement which is actionable by the governing law. The breach allows you to prevent the user from accessing your website or mobile app.
Some website users can host advertisements and endorsements.
If you wish to host any endorsements from third-parties, you should disclose them to your users even if you are not paid for them.
You should also include a disclaimer that you are not responsible or liable for using any third-parties endorsements.
You need to make your payment terms known to the user. The clause puts the site users on notice that you require payment information, and also, you can terminate service if there is no payment.
The payment terms should also outline your payment frequency and whether you accept monthly, quarterly, or annual payments.
The termination provision helps you to enforce the terms of service.
If you wish to launch a business, it's essential to develop general terms and conditions to protect your business. You can use our detailed guide to help you create a complete agreement.