Terms and Conditions

What's A Terms And Conditions Agreement?

Note that you’ll sometimes see this agreement referred to as a Terms of Use, User Agreement or Terms of Service agreement. These terms are interchangeable and refer to the same type of agreement.

The purpose of a Terms and Conditions agreement is to prevent misunderstandings between the business owner (you), and the consumer. The agreement helps you:

  • Protect your intellectual property
  • Avoid website abuse
  • Define the limits of your legal obligations to the consumer

Essentially, the T&C helps you run your business more effectively and with greater peace of mind.

This agreement forms the basis of an enforceable legal relationship. It tells anyone browsing your website, whether they are a casual visitor or an active client, what their legal responsibilities and rights are.

It also gives you, as the business owner and service provider, authority over certain undesirable things that a consumer may do on your website. However, let’s consider the specific reasons why business owners should always include a Terms and Conditions agreement on their website.

The Benefits Of Having A Terms And Conditions Agreement

We can’t stress this enough – a T&C isn’t mandatory, but you should treat it like it is. Here’s why.

  • You can decide which country’s laws apply to govern the agreement. This is otherwise known as choosing the jurisdiction. You will generally choose the country where the website, or business, is based.
  • You can remove or delete abusive accounts. For example, say you run a social media platform and explain that people who post inflammatory, abusive, or explicit content will be blocked from the service. Someone posts abusive content. You can block their account without worry, because you can rely on your Terms and Conditions agreement.
  • You can limit your responsibility. You can include disclaimer clauses in your agreement that say you’re not liable for third party content, and you don’t endorse it. You can also say that you’re not responsible for mistakes and typos, or content uploaded by users which other users may find offensive.
  • You can manage a user’s expectations of your website or platform. When the terms are clear, users know what they can and cannot expect from you.
  • You can set your own site rules and the consequences for violating these rules, within legal limits. You can’t contract out of certain rules such as the law of negligence.
  • It’s vital that you protect your intellectual property rights. By setting out what your rights are in the Terms and Conditions agreement, you can take action against users who infringe your rights. It should be clear that the logo, brand, and content belong to you.

Creating A Terms And Conditions Agreement

When you begin to draft a Terms and Conditions agreement, there are certain clauses you should make sure to include. Let’s look at each of these clauses in turn and consider how they are drafted.

Introduction Clauses
It’s very helpful to set out a clause (or clauses) at the very beginning of the agreement explaining what the agreement is, who it applies to, and when the terms are triggered.

Here’s how Instagram does this. It notes that the terms are triggered when a user creates an account on the platform or uses the app, and it clearly states that the terms constitute an agreement between Instagram and the user: