WHAT YOU CAN’T AFFORD TO MISS IN YOUR T&Cs
In part two of our interview with Lawrence Chaney, Partner at GPS Legal & Consulting, we expanded upon our discussion about the importance of an NDA to looking at crucial points you can’t afford to exclude from your Terms & Conditions.
“Terms & Conditions set the parameters and conditions with which you’re engaging with another party, whether that’s B2B or B2C – everything in which there is interaction, needs to be clearly defined” says Lawrence.
“Think of when you go to buy coffee, what does the cup say? ‘Caution, contents may be hot’, that is a Terms & Conditions clause. Some of these things may seem ridiculous, but in that case someone burnt their mouth and sued the company. As there was no warning beforehand, the customer won. The courts decided that the coffee company had a duty and care to forewarn you that the coffee is hot” explains Lawrence.
So what are the crucial points to consider when writing your T&Cs? Here we give you a few points that are a must:
DISSECT YOUR SERVICES
“Every point of your service needs to be addressed, make it thorough and cover every aspect” advises Lawrence. “For example, if you’re running a website that has the slightest chance of transmitting a virus, state in your T&Cs that ‘using this website is at the users’ own risk’ – if another company did get a virus from your website, and they weren’t forewarned, they could sue you for that” explains Lawrence.
While such an example may sound rather extreme, it is a valid point to expose all the bases in which you’ll need to cover yourself in your T&Cs. From the first point of interaction where a good or service is being advertised, cover the conditions in which you are selling that good or service. Furthermore, during the sales and purchasing of that good or service, define every aspect: whether there are refunds, if the good has a warranty, who is liable in the case of an accident, the list goes on – make sure you cover everything.
NEVER COPY & PASTE
“There’s countless times I’ve seen T&Cs which have literally been copied and pasted from other websites and services. This is a huge mistake, T&Cs aren’t a set of rules that apply to all business; they only apply to your business. Were there to be any legal action against your company, your T&Cs would provide zero defense if they are not specifically written for your business” says Lawrence.
Many of us may skim through T&Cs and therefore some may think they’re all the same. While many of the rules of interaction are somewhat similar, it’s the specifics that need to be written by you or your lawyer that clearly define the conditions of your interaction with another party. Lawrence explains how he’s even seen product names within the T&C that aren’t even a part of the business in question: “If you’ve copied and pasted your T&Cs and there’s a part defining the conditions of using a product which isn’t even yours (something I’ve seen countless times before) you’ve basically got a whole T&C that is rendered useless. Furthermore, T&Cs are copyrighted by the business, so you’re also breaking the law by stealing someone else’s content.”
UNDERSTAND THE CIVIL & COMMERCIAL CODE IN THAILAND
As discussed, without T&Cs you are essentially leaving yourself open. If a dispute arises with a user, you’re leaving yourself subject to the laws that are in place, in Thailand that’s the Civil & Commercial Code of Thailand. “It’s general in nature, but it may not cater to your needs and may work against you, irrespective of whether you feel you’re right or wrong” explains Lawrence.
Put simply, it’s a very basic code that can be completely useless in protecting your business if your T&Cs aren’t thorough or if you haven’t even got them. It’s certainly not something you’ll want to rely on in your defense should a legal case arise. Get familiar for the Civil & Commercial Code for your own background knowledge, and you’ll also be able to expose and pinpoint the T&Cs you’ll need written that apply specifically to your business.
STILL UNSURE? GET HELP
If you’re still unsure of what is needed in the T&Cs for your business, seek help. Few of us are experienced enough to write bulletproof T&Cs, but with the right legal advice and support you can protect your business from the headaches of legal cases that could easily be avoided with a few simple words.
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