Based in Sydney, Australia, Foundry is a blog by Rebecca Thao. Her posts explore modern architecture through photos and quotes by influential architects, engineers, and artists.

How Important Are Terms of Service and Why? Should One Hire a Lawyer to Draft One?

A Terms of Service Agreement (“ToS”), also referred to as Terms of Use or Terms and Conditions, is extremely important as it governs a user’s behavior when they are using your website or mobile app service. A ToS is designed to protect your customers’ privacy, reduce your exposure to liability, shield your intellectual property (IP), inform about limitations and warranties, and disclose conflict resolution procedures (among other things you can include).

It is important for a ToS to be tailored to your business. Your business is specific and unique and your ToS should be the same way. I advise against copying your ToS or using one of the “easy to use” sites as they will almost certainly fail to include or capture everything. Conversely, a default ToS are often saturated with unnecessary clauses. Courts are not fond of these type of broad agreements because they do not educate the consumer in a clear and fair way.

If you are thinking about including a ToS in your website then you need to consider the need for a Privacy Policy as well. If you are unfamiliar with Privacy Policies then check out my response to -  What will happen if I don’t include a privacy policy on my website?

Should I hire an attorney?

Of course it is possible to write your own terms and conditions and privacy policy but the question is--are you experienced enough to draft a legal document that covers all the rules a user must abide by in order to use your website?

The most effective way to create your ToS is to consult with a lawyer who specializes in your industry. Such an attorney will identify what makes your app/service unique and draft a proper legal document that protects your business from liability and builds trust with your users (by spelling out what exactly you do with their data). Failing to do so properly exposes your business to legal risk. Side note - one tip on reducing your cost of hiring an attorney is to first attempt to draft a ToS before passing it to a startup lawyer who will review it and update all the hard stuff.

 

Are Privacy Policies, FAQs and Terms of Service Required by Law for Websites?

How Much Do Terms and Conditions and Privacy Statements Cost to Get Made for Most Startups?