News & Insights

Avoiding the perils of copy and paste – ensuring you have water-tight terms and conditions for your website

Charlotte Burroughs, solicitor in the Commercial & Technology team, looks at the dangers of copying and pasting website and terms and conditions.

Last week, it was widely report that the newly appointed Brexit ferry firm, Seabourne Freight, had seemingly copied and pasted its website terms and conditions from a takeaway food firm. Seabourne’s terms and conditions on their website advised customers to check goods before “agreeing to pay for any meal/order”. Another section stated “Delivery charges are calculated per order and based on [delivery details here]”. The government has said the section was “put up in error” and it has now been corrected.

This story serves as a timely reminder of the dangers of copying website terms and conditions (or any other contractual documentation) and equally the importance of website terms and conditions being tailored to that company and that website.

Whilst it may seem simple and inexpensive to copy terms and conditions from another website, these terms will usually have been prepared specifically for that the business operating that website and will not usually be suited to another website for different goods and services.

Copying terms and conditions is also potential copyright infringement, not to mention that it can be damaging to your business and the relationship with your customers, particularly when any shortcomings in the terms and conditions are exposed.

Terms and conditions should set out the legal rights and obligations between you and your website visitors/customers and should, hopefully, reduce the risk of disputes arising.

Website documentation should include the following:

  • Terms of use of the website (to govern the way in which anyone visiting your website should use it). Depending on the nature of your website the terms may include rules relating to website registration, passwords and security.
  • Terms and conditions of sale (where you are selling products or services via your website).
  • Privacy policy explaining how you use personal data.
  • Cookies policy explaining what website cookies you use.

If you would have any questions about these issues, of if you would like help drafting or updating documents for your website, please contact our Commercial & Technology team.