Every Business With A Website Needs These Two Documents

When I meet business owners and tell them that I draft contracts for businesses, I often hear “I don’t even know what types of contracts I need for my business”. If you have a website for your business there are two documents that are absolutely essential to have: a privacy policy and website terms and conditions.
1. Privacy Policy
Under Canada’s Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), organizations that collect personal information must inform users about their privacy practices. Some examples of personal information include age, name, ID numbers and income.
A privacy policy explains, clearly and in plain language, why personal information is being collected, what the organization will do with it, how it will be protected and with whom it will be shared. Once your privacy policy is on your site, you do not need to touch it unless you make changes to your privacy practices or if there are changes to the legislation. If it needs to be updated, this can be done in accordance with the privacy policy.
It is essential to have a privacy policy on your website. If you do not, you could be breaking the law. Not only that, but a privacy policy is good for business. It adds credibility to your business and shows that you care for your customers and take good care of their personal information.
2. Terms and Conditions
The terms and conditions of your website are essentially a contract between you, the site owner, and visitors to your site. They are also referred to as, “Terms of Service” and “Terms of Use”. Like the website’s privacy policy, they are non-negotiable. Simply by accessing the site, the visitor accepts the Terms and Conditions. If a visitor does not agree to the terms, the Terms and Conditions typically contain language that states they must not use the website.
There is no a legal requirement to have Terms and Conditions on your site. That doesn’t mean that you don’t need one. If you are ever sued by a visitor to your site, you would point to your Terms and Conditions as a way to limit your liability. If there are no Terms and Conditions, you’ve just created an uphill battle for yourself in court. There is no way to prove the contractual terms between visitor and the website owner, if there are no Terms and Conditions.
Among other terms, your website Terms and Conditions are the place where you can do the following:

  • Limitation of Liability: if a visitor to your site takes you to court, this provision sets out how your liability is limited. It could be limited to a dollar amount and/or exclude types of damages.
  • Content: this allows you to set who owns the content (i.e. images, copy, text, etc.) on the site
  • Governing Law: you want to ensure that the terms of the website are governed by the law where your business is located and with which you are familiar. 

Fees to have these documents drafted by a lawyer vary quite a bit. For those of you that are cost conscious, I have created DIY templates for business owners who do not want to pay the hourly fees of a lawyer but want templates that are reliable and legal. I sell them as digital downloads so all you need to do is enter your relevant information, set up links to these documents on your site and then move on, knowing that your website is legally set. Click here for more information.
Does your website have a privacy policy? If not, what is holding you back from posting one? Please let me know in the comments!

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