Terms of use FAQ

This brief FAQ contains answers to some of questions I get asked on a daily basis relating to website terms.

What is the difference between T&Cs, terms of use, and disclaimers?

In the context of websites, these are different names for often similar - and sometimes identical – documents.

“T&Cs” or “terms and conditions” may apply to any kind of contractual arrangement, but if you see them on a website they will usually contain some terms relating to the use of that website.

Strictly, a “disclaimer” is a document disclaiming liability in relation to something. However, this title is often used for documents that do more than just disclaim liability. Again, if you see a disclaimer on a website, it's likely to disclaim the owner's liability in relation to the website.

I prefer to call the legal notice that is concerned with the use of a website “terms of use”. However, I'm not very consistent about this!

What is the point of having terms of use?

On a basic website, terms of use usually do at least 3 things.

First, they specify the basis upon which the website may be used. In other words, they contain an express grant of a licence of the IP rights in the website.

Second, they disclaim liability in relation to the use of the website.

Third, they help the website owner fulfil any legal disclosure obligations.

In more sophisticated websites, the terms of use have to cover a great deal more ground (e.g. membership terms, subscription payments, etc).

Will a good disclaimer protect me from lawsuits?

Possibly, but never completely.

Do I have to put my name on the website?

If the website is owned by a company or LLP registered in the UK, then yes.

If the website is subject to the Ecommerce Regulations, Distance Selling Regulations or a similar piece of legislation you will also need to include the name of the owner. (If you make any money out of a UK website, that website is likely to be subject to those Regulations.)

Certain professional and industry codes of practice also require the inclusion of a name.

Do I have to put my address on my website?

If the website is owned by a company or LLP registered in the UK, then you need to put the address of that entity on the site.

In addition, if the Ecommerce Regulations apply you need to supply a “geographic address”.

Will a PO Box number do?

A PO Box is not, in my view, a “geographic address”.

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