Free Sample Attorney-Drafted Terms and Conditions Template
As a business entity with an online web platform, you have to make sure to dedicate a page detailing your terms and conditions when it comes to your dealings. There are numerous reasons why you should do so.
Not only will you save a lot of legal fees in the future, but it would also make it easier for your customers to understand how your business works.
Of course, it’s not easy to write fool-proof terms and conditions statement for your webpage.
To help you get started, you can use the information we will provide in this article to jump-start the legal side of your website.
We’ll be giving you details on what terms and conditions are, why web owners need it, along with a few templates and examples, among others. Writing down your terms and conditions deserves your undivided attention.
Words can be open to misinterpretation, so it’s best to lay down yours carefully. There are a couple of things you must do when it comes to drafting your terms and conditions.
First, make sure to check the common law requirements when making your terms in conditions. You also have to take note that these requirements may vary depending on the country you’re in.
Second, make sure to place your terms and conditions in the right space in your website. There are instructions regarding where to place your terms and conditions to make it legally-binding, so be sure to do so to avoid legal issues.
Without further ado, let's take a closer look at “terms and conditions”.
Table of contents
- What is a terms and conditions agreement?
- Who is responsible for drafting terms and conditions?
- Why do you need terms and conditions?
- What to include in terms and conditions?
- Terms and conditions examples
- Where to display terms and conditions?
- How to enforce terms and conditions?
- Sample free terms and conditions template
- Final words
What is a terms and conditions agreement?
This document can contain standards, specifications, rules, requirements, provisions, and arrangements. For some purposes, the terms and conditions can be used as a plain disclaimer to notify the website visitors.
It is important not to confuse it with the End-User License Agreement (EULA). EULA is used for desktop software that may or may not require a server connection to run. If you have a mobile app or if you offer services through your website, you will need to have ToS in place.
On many websites today, rules and guidelines specified in the terms and conditions have to be agreed on by website visitors, so that the user may continue using the website in question.
In this scenario, the website is a company, and the user is the person who visits it. Terms and conditions serve as a legal contract between these two.
Who is responsible for drafting terms and conditions?
Terms and conditions have to be set up by the owners of websites. Since your website or service you provide may differ from others on the market, you can use the terms and conditions template as a reference point.
In the end, however, you will still have to specify your own rules and guidelines for your website visitors to follow, as well as make it the agreement complies with various regulations and requirements.
This way, you will have a legal agreement and hold the rights to practice measures specified in the terms and conditions, if a visitor abuses the website and its content.
Terms and conditions can be used in different business models offering a wide range of services:
- E-commerce websites
- Product catalog and business card websites
- Online blogs running on WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, and similar platforms
- Software as a service (SaaS)
- Mobile apps (iPhone, iOS, Android)
- Web apps (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
Why do you need terms and conditions?
Now that we have established what a terms and condition agreement is, where it can be applied, and who is responsible for drafting it, let’s dive in more on to the reason why it is necessary to begin with.
As previously mentioned, it can help you counter legal issues and liabilities. Still, there’s so much more to terms and conditions than just a shield against those issues.
To help you understand why you need terms and conditions agreements as a website owner and an app developer, here are some compelling reasons why you need to have your own terms and conditions:
Since the terms and conditions act as a legally binding contract, you will be able to take action when users violate rules and guidelines provided in this agreement. That applies to abusive actions done by website visitors or mobile app users.
Some examples of abusive actions include posting or sharing defamatory content, spamming other users, and using harmful language, among others.
Protect your content
Technically, you should own everything you create and post on your website or app. That includes your logo, the images to blog posts, and the design of the site you’re using. There are cases when you use the content of others and credit them accordingly, as well.
With the help of terms and conditions, you can protect these properties and make sure that people do not claim it as theirs illegally.
All you have to do is insert an intellectual property clause in your terms and conditions informing web visitors that you and your third-party partners are the legitimate owners of the content of your website and that each content is subject to copyright laws.
By doing so, people who still fail to recognize your domain over certain intellectual properties will be held liable and can be called for lawsuits.
Ban users and terminate accounts
In some cases, even when you inform the users about the rules and guidelines, you won't be able to prevent abuses. When you add a Termination or Ban clause in the terms and conditions, you will be able to terminate users’ accounts and ban them based on their activity.
That way, there won’t be a lot of chances for those people to flood you with spam or attack your page without just cause.
Set the governing law
Website owners usually use terms and conditions to specify the governing law they are working under. That is important because digital copyright and other types of laws differ depending on the country or location.
With the help of terms and conditions, you will be able to communicate with your customers the legal boundaries that you have as a holder of a terms and conditions statement.
When you own a website, your interactions with your client can be vulnerable to miscommunication. This breakdown can lead to more significant issues, and you may find yourself in the middle of a lawsuit before you know it.
With the help of a terms and condition statement, you will be able to set the limits of your liability and let your customers know that there are certain things that are out of your control.
By doing this, you’re protecting yourself from a host of lawsuits that could involve you should there be issues or breakdowns in your line of business.
Dealing with online transactions can be tricky, especially in a world where eCommerce is being held more accountable to their customers’ woes.
If your customer orders any item and you experience an issue that led to non-existent merchandise stock or wrong pricing (among others), they can still hold you liable for their order and force you to make amends.
While it may not sound grave on the business side, a mountain of orders that you have to make up for will certainly hurt your business financially. It would be better for you to have a safeguard that allows you to cancel orders when such issues arise, and this is where terms and conditions will come in.
When you have terms and conditions, you can outline precisely the circumstances that will allow you to cancel orders without any ramifications on your end. You will stay on the legal side of things when you list down these circumstances without fear of legal disputes due to canceled orders.
Law requirements in different countries
In Australia, for instance, you are required by the Australian Consumer Law to clearly describe your business standards and provide terms and conditions on your eCommerce website.
For example, the terms and conditions have to include directions on how visitors can use a website, what is forbidden, and a short liability disclaimer. In addition to this, Australia also requires you to have the following:
- Returns and refunds
- User's rights to use the website in question
For a business that bases its shops online, having terms and conditions is a must! But this is not exclusively imposed by the government of the country the business is in.
The World's Federal Trade Commission has few regulations regarding terms and conditions and online privacy protection.
For instance, if a company has a website that targets an audience that is under 13 years old, it has to be compliant with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act.
In terms and conditions agreements, it is also incredibly important to define a governing law. The governing law clause clearly states which laws and rules govern the agreement. That is the first clause interested parties look for in case legal issues arise.
What to include in terms and conditions?
In order to cover all legal grounds, writing the terms and conditions has to be taken seriously. It can be challenging to draft one on your own, especially if you do not have prior experience in doing so.
To help you, we have listed down some of the most common elements that need to be present when you make your website’s terms and conditions.
Depending on the service or content you provide to your users, you can consider including the following in your custom-tailored terms and conditions agreement (not necessarily in this order) if you choose to write one yourself:
A limitations clause is where you specify the limits to what the users can do on your website or application. In this section, you inform website visitors or app users that upon agreeing on using your website and services, they also agree to the things listed in your terms and conditions.
Website owners usually state negative and unwanted uses, the so-called prohibited activities, when detailing everything they want to be not liable for in the limitations clause.
Intellectual property clause
Intellectual property disclosure usually informs website visitors or app users that the provided content is the website owner’s property. This is a great place to state which content is protected by (international) copyright laws.
By including this, you are protecting your intellectual property and telling people that its use is prohibited. Doing so can lead to legal disputes that you’re highly-likely to triumph over.
The content clause is pretty standard on websites that have a blog section open for contributors, or any content uploading and sharing features.
In the content clause, the website owner can inform visitors that they own the rights to the content they have created, even though it is public and accessible to other visitors.
In this clause, you may also inform the users that upon uploading, you might share this content and make it accessible to anyone else.
User ban and account termination clause should always be included in the terms and conditions if there is a user/visitor behavior limitation clause.
In this clause, the website owner informs users that their accounts can be terminated if they violate any of the rules and guidelines regarding the use of the website.
It is important to include, especially if you do not want to be accused of profiling or picking your customers when conducting your business dealings.
Service availability clause
If you are providing service via your website, this clause is critical. This clause recognizes that there can be possible software or backend breakdowns that may lead to the stoppage of service. By including this clause, you are protecting your business from legal issues surrounding the constant availability of your service.
For example, big online service providers such as Apple clearly state in their service availability clause that iTunes services can be canceled at any time without notifying users and that they do not guarantee that the service will be accessible around the clock.
It is a smart move, as it serves as a disclaimer that makes complaints and issues from customers a non-issue.
Governing law clause
Terms and conditions are an agreement. In this clause, website owners inform visitors which laws govern the agreement. Usually, these laws are laws of the state where the company's headquarters are located or state/country from which the company operates.
Make sure to include all relevant laws to your governing law clause so that you’re covered legally and you know which laws to refer to when making decisions about your business.
Linking to other websites clause
If you have links to other websites on your website, including affiliate links, it is important to inform users that you are not responsible for the content of the websites that the links on your website lead to.
Terms and conditions examples
To help you get started, here are some examples of terms and conditions clauses of the most popular websites.
YouTube has an incredibly high number of visitors who come by to watch videos and users who film, create, and upload videos. Their terms and conditions are quite long but written impeccably. They divide this agreement into several sections.
Right at the start, visitors can get informed about what they are accepting, followed by service, user accounts, general use, permissions and restrictions, use of the content, conduct, account termination policy, digital millennium copyright act, and other general clauses.
They have a well-written “ability to accept terms of service” clause, which you can see below:
Amazon has quickly become a synonym for online purchasing. Today, Amazon is so much more, but let's stick to the eCommerce side of Amazon's operations. This company provides extensive terms and conditions agreement, covering all possible scenarios.
For the purpose of this article, we’ve decided to share with you the limitations clause of their shipping and delivery terms and conditions agreement.
As you can see, there are different ways to present your terms and conditions to your customers. However, regardless if you want to present it with a friendly or formal tone, you must make sure that it remains easy to understand.
Flowery words won’t matter if your terms and conditions become unclear and open to misinterpretation.
Where to display terms and conditions?
The two most common ways to display terms and conditions are browse-wrap and click-wrap.
A browse-wrap agreement is the one you see at the footer of the web page. Website owners often go for this type because it doesn't have an impact on the website design and user experience.
A click-wrap agreement is when you place full terms and conditions, available on a user's demand, in a prominent spot. Lightbox beside the terms and conditions on web pages where users have to take action is also a pretty standard solution.
How to enforce terms and conditions?
It is one thing to display the terms and conditions agreement, but another to make it enforceable.
You may ask: Why is it essential to make it enforceable? The answer is simple. In case you end up in court, you must prove that your website’s visitor was adequately informed about your terms and conditions.
You should also show that despite their consent on your terms and conditions, they still performed actions that are not in line with your set of rules.
The best way to make the terms and conditions enforceable is to force a website visitor or mobile app user to perform an action that confirms they have read terms and conditions.
We have mentioned browse-wrap agreements in the section above. These are not suitable for this purpose because they are usually located in the footer of the website, containing the link to the terms and conditions.
A click-wrap agreement is a much better solution to enforce it. Providing proper notice to visitors about legal agreements before they act is called a click-wrap agreement. Present it before subscribing to an email list or for news updates, registering an account, or completing a purchase, etc.
With a click-wrap agreement, you are basically forcing the hand of your customer or website visitor to read your terms and conditions. You are also confirming that they’ve read it before they perform a specific action on your website. Doing this increases your chances of winning should you face a legal dispute.
Sample free terms and conditions template
This generic terms and conditions template will help you see how everything we talked about so far comes together to form a legal agreement.
Keep in mind that this is just an example terms and conditions template and does not cover many of the important topics.
Generic Terms and Conditions Template
Please read these terms and conditions ("terms", "terms and conditions") carefully before using [website] website (the "service") operated by [name] ("us", 'we", "our").
Conditions of Use
We will provide their services to you, which are subject to the conditions stated below in this document. Every time you visit this website, use its services or make a purchase, you accept the following conditions. This is why we urge you to read them carefully.
Content published on this website (digital downloads, images, texts, graphics, logos) is the property of [name] and/or its content creators and protected by international copyright laws. The entire compilation of the content found on this website is the exclusive property of [name], with copyright authorship for this compilation by [name].
The entire communication with us is electronic. Every time you send us an email or visit our website, you are going to be communicating with us. You hereby consent to receive communications from us. If you subscribe to the news on our website, you are going to receive regular emails from us. We will continue to communicate with you by posting news and notices on our website and by sending you emails. You also agree that all notices, disclosures, agreements and other communications we provide to you electronically meet the legal requirements that such communications be in writing.
By visiting this website, you agree that the laws of the [your location], without regard to principles of conflict laws, will govern these terms and conditions, or any dispute of any sort that might come between [name] and you, or its business partners and associates.
Any dispute related in any way to your visit to this website or to products you purchase from us shall be arbitrated by state or federal court [your location] and you consent to exclusive jurisdiction and venue of such courts.
Comments, Reviews, and Emails
Visitors may post content as long as it is not obscene, illegal, defamatory, threatening, infringing of intellectual property rights, invasive of privacy or injurious in any other way to third parties. Content has to be free of software viruses, political campaigns, and commercial solicitation.
We reserve all rights (but not the obligation) to remove and/or edit such content. When you post your content, you grant [name] non-exclusive, royalty-free and irrevocable right to use, reproduce, publish, modify such content throughout the world in any media.
License and Site Access
We grant you a limited license to access and make personal use of this website. You are not allowed to download or modify it. This may be done only with written consent from us.
If you are an owner of an account on this website, you are solely responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of your private user details (username and password). You are responsible for all activities that occur under your account or password.
We reserve all rights to terminate accounts, edit or remove content and cancel orders in their sole discretion.
As a business owner who deals with eCommerce, SaaS or any other type of online business, you should make sure that you do everything to protect it from lawsuits stemming from customer complaints and issues online.
Facing a lawsuit is not exactly ideal for any business, and a weak terms and conditions statement will not protect you from that. Your terms and conditions have to cover all your bases to avoid costly legal issues that can debilitate your business financially.
Of course, we understand that not everyone is equipped with enough experience and knowledge to draft their own terms and conditions.
After all, this line of business should be left to those who know what they’re doing in order for your agreement to be as detailed as possible, leaving no stone left unturned.
Every day without a valid terms and conditions agreement puts you and your business at great risk of lawsuits that you may lose.
With our fully automated terms and conditions generator, you can get an attorney-drafted terms and conditions agreement created specifically for your needs in just a few minutes. You cannot afford not to do it!
Let us take the stress of legal stuff away from you so you could focus on what matters the most - growing your business.
- Updated on January 7, 2020