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Do I need a website disclaimer?

Updated: Dec 15, 2020

Building a website can be a complex process, and once you’ve ticked off the design and content, it can be easy to overlook the *legal stuff*. So, when it comes to including a website disclaimer, what exactly do you need to consider? We’ve broken down some of the legal jargon below.

What is a website disclaimer?

A website disclaimer is a notice that aims to mitigate your liability. They can highlight the accuracy, reliance and interpretation of content (or advice), copyright, viruses, cookies and more.

How does a website disclaimer work?

A website disclaimer can be a good, first line of defence and provide users with transparency around your goods and services, and your scope of liability.

Importantly, a website disclaimer does not override your legal obligations. For example, it will not protect you if you post misleading information or false advertisements and claims. Also, it cannot retract your liability where you have a responsibility under the law — for example, consumer protection, licencing or industry requirements.

How do I know if I need a website disclaimer?

Depending on your business, industry and the goods or services you provide, you may choose to include a disclaimer on your website for a variety of reasons. Firstly, it pays to evaluate if a disclaimer is, in fact, the most appropriate documentation.

For example, if you have an online store and are wanting to inform customers about your terms of service, constructing a comprehensive document that outlines your terms and conditions (e.g. returns, postage, payments) may be more appropriate.

If you need to highlight privacy and the collection and handling of personal information via your website, a privacy statement or policy could be more suitable.

An example of where a disclaimer may be the best course of action could be limiting liability around the interpretation of content on a blog. For example, if you provide general advice in articles, you may wish to use a website disclaimer to alert users on the potential risks depending on their individual situation.

In terms of products, website disclaimers can be used for a range of purposes. For example, advising that beauty products are not recommended for specific skin types, warning that products should not be used for purposes other than designed, and product colouring may vary slightly in person. These are only a handful of examples.

What should I consider when using a website disclaimer?

So, you’ve decided to include a disclaimer on your website. What should you consider?

  • Make sure your disclaimer clearly articulates the risk/s you want to convey to the user. If possible, include functionality on your website for the user to accept the disclaimer (e.g. pop-up, tick box). This is not always possible, depending on your website configuration and capability.

  • Place your website disclaimer in a position that can easily be seen and where it is relevant. Make sure the font size is legible.

  • Update your website regularly, making sure where required, the disclaimer is updated to reflect any changes.

  • Seek professional, legal help if you are unsure. Depending on your business, there may be licencing, industry and other legislative information you need to consider when including a disclaimer.

Do you need some legal help with website disclaimers or other online documentation? Contact our team today.

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