Online businesses need custom T&Cs

2017-03-01 10:14
Nita van Zyl

Nita van Zyl

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I have recently decided to launch an online business and I am setting up my website. My website developer has strongly advised me to look at proper terms and conditions for my website. I have always thought these were relatively standard, but now it sounds like it must be quite specific.

Is this true, or can I just copy terms and conditions from other websites?


Online businesses beware! An often overlooked aspect – your website terms and conditions (T&Cs) – essentially represents your agreement of use and trade with users of your website or mobile applications.

The last thing you should do is skimp or fail to customise such to your specific website and online business needs.

These T&Cs must regulate the entire range of using, transacting and interacting with your online business.

If properly drafted, T&Cs can provide the following advantages:
Provide clarity about what is acceptable conduct on your website as well as the consequences of a breach thereof.

  • Detail the rules that govern your transactions and interactions with an online consumer. ) Establish when ownership passes, who the owner is of intellectual property (such as copyright) on the website, what licences you have to sell, third party products, etc.) Detail how consumer complaints and service issues are dealt with and what remedies are available to your online consumer.) Explain what legal system will govern your transactions.) Ensure your compliance with important legislation such as the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act 25 of 2002, the Consumer Protection Act 68 of 2008 and the Protection of Personal Information Act 4 of 2013 (soon to commence) which are relevant to your online business.) Eliminate loopholes that could be exploited by a savvy online consumer for their benefit and to your detriment.

A one-size-fits all or cut-and-paste approach must never be followed.

Your type of business, the goods or services you sell, your content and your value offering all differ from that of other online businesses and as such demand T&Cs that are specific.

So tread carefully and obtain the help of a specialist to help you put the correct T&Cs in place for your new website.

– Nita van Zyl, associate, Phatshoane Henney Attorneys

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