Are Terms And Conditions Displayed On A Website Legally Binding?
Yes they are. Terms and conditions on a website are another form of legally enforceable contract. Traditionally, terms and conditions were agreed to with a signature. Online terms and conditions are generally agreed to through the consumer actively clicking a button stating they agree to the terms and conditions. Through clicking a tick box, the consumer is actively communicating their intent to accept the offer, and this is key to making a contract legally enforceable.
Terms and conditions displayed on a website are unique as they can be agreed to outside of business hours, at whatever time suits the consumer.
What Are Standard Form Contracts?
To enable these agreements to take place with minimum to no negotiation, the types of terms and conditions displayed on a website are often ‘standard form contracts’. Standard form contracts are a type of contract that cannot easily be changed by the other party agreeing to the contract.
What If Terms Are Unfair?
Because the agreeing party has so little power, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission regulates contract terms that are deemed unfair. Customers are able to make a complaint to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission if they feel a term in the contract is unfair.
What Steps Can A Business Take To Make T&Cs Easier To Understand?
The business displaying the terms and conditions should take steps to ensure they have pointed out any unusual terms. They can do this by highlighting the term, having it at the beginning of the document, or further referencing these terms in other places on the website.
The business should also try to make reading the terms and conditions feasible. This could mean not using overly complex language, having short terms and conditions, designing a layout where there is a pop up of the terms and conditions and the reader has to actively scroll down the terms and conditions to access the tick box, and giving the consumer ample time to read the terms and conditions before their purchase expires for instance.
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