With the advent of the internet and new technologies, it has never been easier to start a new business but to ensure your business runs smoothly and efficiently; you need to avoid potential legal issues by ensuring that you have all the key policies and procedures in place.
The moment a user accesses your website, for example, your website is providing a service and information that could potentially result in litigation, hence the importance of a disclaimer policy to protect against inaccurate information.
If your business has a website, a disclaimer is essential to protect your business against potential legal issues. Therefore; it needs to be well thought through and relevant to limit liabilities and protect your business.
The disclaimer definition
A disclaimer is an important document that should appear on every website, to protect the owner of the website from potential legal action from users accessing the website.
A disclaimer cannot guarantee that there will be no unwanted claims against your business, but it will certainly act as a means of protection.
There are various elements of your website that can be covered by a disclaimer including:
- The accuracy of the content on your website – a disclaimer will protect you if inaccurate content causes a loss to a third party, protecting your business against litigation.
- Copyright and Trademarks
- Transmission of viruses
- Physical injury from products sold
- Any issues can be covered in the disclaimer; hence the importance of a disclaimer being well thought out and appropriate to your business.
A disclaimer does not fully protect your business against legal action, as legal action can be taken by an individual regardless of whether a disclaimer exists or not.
Is a disclaimer the same as terms and conditions?
Terms and conditions are a completely different document to a disclaimer, although many people believe they are the same.
It is important to appreciate how they differ and how a disclaimer should be used on your website.
A disclaimer is used on websites to reduce their liability whereas; a terms and conditions documents defines the rules and guidelines on how their website should be used.
A typical terms and conditions document may contain guidelines such as:
- Clearly defining how the website can be used by visitors to the website
- Describing any limitation of the website and how the content can be interpreted
- Defining who is permitted to use the website and for what purpose
- Confirming any copyrights that may exist and whether content or images may be reproduced.
There will be elements that may appear on both the terms and conditions and the disclaimer, but these documents must be treated differently.
The key elements of your disclaimer
The wording on your disclaimer will depend on each website; therefore it is not possible to have a standard disclaimer definition that will work across many websites.
A disclaimer template could be used to form the basis of your website disclaimer, but it is important to fully customise your disclaimer to exactly meet your business requirements.
There are certain elements that should be considered and should appear within a disclaimer policy on a website.
The accuracy of content and information
Information on your website could inadvertently contain errors that could potentially leave your business open to legal action.
A clause within your disclaimer confirming that the business cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information is an essential inclusion and one of the most important disclaimers to include.
If your business is selling products online, another essential disclaimer relates to any physical injuries that could be caused by one of your products.
This could be related to a faulty product or misuse of a product. The disclaimer will help to protect your business against such claims.
If your business is the legal owner of the content on your website, the ownership of the content can be defined within the disclaimer.
Plagiarism is common across the internet, but ensuring a sufficient clause is included in your disclaimer, this may help to deter others from reproducing your content without permission.
With many websites using third-party tools or including third party advertisements on their website, thus a clause covering third-party responsibility is an important inclusion in your disclaimer policy.
The action of third parties is outside of the control of the businesses, therefore the disclaimer should clearly state that your business has no control over the actions of each third party and accepts no liability.
These are just some of the standard clauses that should be included in your disclaimer. However, it is essential that the disclaimer is tailored exactly to your business requirements if the disclaimer is to serve the purpose it has been designed for.
Using a disclaimer from another website
This is an approach that should not be taken, as a disclaimer that is replicated is unlikely to protect your business since very few businesses are the same, so bespoke disclaimers are essential.
Reviewing disclaimers from other similar sites may give some guidance, but the end result should be a disclaimer tailored exactly for your business.
Disclaimer templates, are they useful?
A template may be useful for creating the basis of your disclaimer, but using a template for your final disclaimer policy is not recommended.
Businesses may be similar, but each will have different approaches and processes, so only a disclaimer policy that is tailored for your business, by someone who understands your business, will provide a viable solution.
An improved alternative to using a disclaimer template would be to use a disclaimer generator. A disclaimer generator is a better approach than using a template, as a detailed set of questions are provided to capture the necessary business information.
As long as detailed responses are provided, the disclaimer generator will create your custom disclaimer in line with your business requirements.
The disclaimer for your business
A disclaimer should be in place to protect your business against potential legal claims. Should legal action be taken against your business for inaccurate information on your website, for example, the disclaimer policy will prove a key document and help to protect your business against liability, should the action result in a court case.
A disclaimer is a waiver of responsibility that defines the role of the organisation in terms of sharing liability. This may be targeted towards the employees, the data subjects or the government. A disclaimer may show a sign such as a notice for the public.
This may read as a warning or a piece of information necessary for making an informed choice under the law.
The disclaimer may deny:
- Or limit the liability in a legal setting
- Reduce the responsibility of an organisation in legal matters
- Or impart the responsibility to the employees in a legal case scenario
- Attribute or exercise delegation of the liability to other parties involved by reducing their own
This helps in defining all organisations or groups of people involved in key decision making. The disclaimer may help in creating awareness regarding the important figures involved in the protection of rights of individuals and the special role of the employees of the organisation in providing them.
The disclaimer may show that the information is only intended for the specific recipient and original receiver, who will be held responsible in case of a breach and that website cookies may also be active amongst other measures.
Your website disclaimer
Your business terms and conditions and website disclaimer are essential documents if you