Website terms and conditions: Flaws to look out for

Most platforms come up with detailed terms and conditions for their website. The terms and conditions are expected to provide the company with the best security from liability and unnecessary damages from the general public. It is a one-time opportunity for platforms to inform their users in detail what there is to expect when using the platform. 

Nonetheless, your website terms and conditions are classified as contracts and are therefore guided under the rules of contract in Nigeria. Put it in a clearer sense, any vitiating element in a contract can also vitiate or set aside your terms and conditions once they are identified. 

To avoid your website terms and conditions being set aside, we provided you with the top flaws to watch out for if you’re looking to have standard terms and conditions. 

Flaws that can vitiate your terms and conditions

1. It lacks some vital clauses

Most Ts and Cs today lack some significant clauses that help to protect your website concerns. Some clauses if skipped cannot be assumed in law; the clause must be specifically stated before it can pass to protect the website and the owners.

One such clause is the cookie policy clause, which seeks to explain how users’ data will be stored, transmitted, used and destroyed after being given on the platform. Another significant clause is the disclaimer clause, which seeks to disclaim any liability that might occur on the site that isn’t the direct cause of the platform owners or wasn’t done through their negligence.

An example of where a disclaimer clause would be necessary will be when a platform offers to a distinct company the responsibility of payment collection and delivery, the former platform would ordinarily want to disclaim every liability that comes with such payment collection responsibility.

2. There is no agreement from the start

As stated previously, the Ts and Cs on your platform are equivalent to a normal contract executed by two varying parties after an offer and acceptance. When terms and conditions are made, owners forget to have a section instructing the client to accept all the terms and conditions.

The implication of this omission is the eventual absence of a contract between the parties. A contract is sufficient when an offer is made and acceptance is gained from the other party, in the case of the terms and agreement, the mere fact that the user saw, and read the terms is not sufficient enough to prove acceptance. In general practice, a pop-up can be made instructing the client to accept the terms of the contract. 

Also, an absence of the pop-up for the user to consent to the terms and conditions can see the user take advantage of the circumstances and deny seeing or reading the Ts and Cs on the platform. This places the platform owners on a responsibility to prove whether or not the Ts and Cs can be seen at the time of registration. 

3. Account termination

Actions that may lead to users’ account termination must be clearly stated on the platform’s terms and conditions. This is most important because the termination of users’ accounts has been found to significantly affect platforms’ liability over the years.

Most times when users are not clear on the activities that may lead to their account termination, users are mostly drawn to suing the platform once they have their accounts terminated.

An instance is the famous Apple suit of 2021, where a user sued Apple for terminating his account worth $25,000 on the basis that the word ‘rent’ and ‘buy’ were misleading to the public. To avoid the Apple situation above, platforms must expressly state the events, actions and circumstances that may lead to a termination of a user’s account when the need arises.

In some instances, users may claim to be confused about the terms, just as is Apple’s case where the user claimed to be confused as to the terms ‘rent’ and ‘buy’; to avoid this situation, platforms can offer two strikes to users who go against their usage policies, the strike serves as warnings to users on the platform. Most importantly, at every strike, the user is made to read the circumstances that would lead to the user’s account being terminated. 

4. Privacy policy

A privacy policy is as relevant as the terms and conditions being agreed to. The privacy policy must be clear, unambiguous, readable and depict an understanding that the user and a normal man would relate to. 

The biggest mistake made by a majority of platforms is to have the privacy policy lumped together with the terms and conditions or have two different agreements that are not placed in a co-related sense in any manner.

Having privacy policies like those mentioned can be confusing and damaging to the platform’s overall functioning. To avoid this occurrence, platforms must have separate privacy policies placed just immediately after the terms and conditions; this style allows users to get a glimpse of the platform’s privacy policy rules. 

The privacy policy is so vital because it offers insight to the users on how their data placed on the website would be distributed, used, stored and discarded.

The privacy policy protects the platform from unnecessary litigation arising from the distribution of users’ data to third-party platforms or the continuous use of users’ data beyond the platform. Just as users accept the terms and conditions, the privacy policy must also be accepted.

Conclusion

Websites owners today try as best as they could to avoid liability in whatever form it may come, the desire to get the best services to the website users while still maintaining the best levels of decorum can be a bit tasking in the long run. 

The terms and conditions are expected to offer the website, its owners and every person related to it full protection under the law from liability. This article provided the flaws to look out for when building the terms and conditions for a website. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I write my website terms and conditions myself?

Yes, nonetheless, it is best to seek the support of an expert, particularly an attorney.

Can I put an arbitration clause on my terms and conditions?

Yes, an arbitration clause can be contained. 

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Richard Okoroafor

Richard Okoroafor

Richard is a brilliant legal content writer who doubles as a finance lawyer. He brings his wealth of legal knowledge in corporate commercial transactions to bear, offering the best value that exceeds expectations.

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