Why Does My Website Need Terms of Service?
So what do we need them? It’s because …
◦ While our statutes, regulations and past cases are full of laws and their applications when it comes to everyday interactions, few laws and cases exists with respect to online interactions.
◦ Our cyber universe, as a mature legal arena, has existed for less than twenty years. When compared to the hundreds of years of “real world” interactions, its easy to see why many legal “holes” exists in our system.
◦ Under US law, these legal “holes” are filled up with either judge-made interpretations or privately drafted contract law.
◦ Given that on any single day, a judge reviewing an online case may have come from family, criminal or juvenile courts, we would rather leave as little for judges to decide on their on as possible.
◦ We achieve this through proper negotiation; drafting and implementation of site Terms of Service.
◦ Yes … we negotiate Terms of Service. You didn’t know that?
◦ Let me give you an example of a negotiation. Your Terms set a free trial period. You can’t start charging after the end of the trip period without providing sufficient notice to the User. Both sides have to explicitly agree to the charge. Without sufficient notice and consent at the start of the relationship (in the Terms), you will need to get a second consent prior to charging the card.
◦ Having this small detail listed in paragraph 7 of your terms will not suffice.
Unless you realize this important point, you will end up leaving too much for judges to decide.