Terms and conditions (T&Cs) contain details to a transaction. They are written evidence of the duties, rights, and responsibilities of the parties to a deal. They can be viewed as a manual for a business agreement and should contain details covering every eventuality. Careful drafting is required; this is information that may be used in court should a dispute arise.
When T&Cs form part of a contract they are legally binding. A contract requires offer, acceptance, intention to form a legally binding agreement and consideration, which is usually money but may be anything else of value.
Online T&Cs are used where an online contract is being made, for example when purchasing an item. A tick box is used asking for acceptance of T&Cs and giving the opportunity to view them. It is preferable to ask for acceptance of the T&Cs rather than for a statement confirming that they have been read and understood.
T&Cs are vitally important because they contain the details of a deal. Parties entering a transaction should be able to understand from the T&Cs exactly what will be expected of them and what would happen in the even of a disagreement. Should a dispute arise a judge or arbitrator will decide the case by examining the detail in the T&Cs.
A contract containing T&Cs does not always need to be signed. Whilst it is usual and preferable to sign a contract, actions such as emails, online tick boxes and even proceeding as though a contract is in place can all be enough to form a legally binding agreement.
T&Cs constitute intellectual property and wholesale copying breaches copyright law. Should a legal dispute arise, no-one wants their illegally obtained T&Cs in front of the court. Apart from the legality point, it is worth having T&Cs professionally drawn up right from the beginning to ensure that they are specifically tailored to the business they are designed to protect.
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