Content marketing is the way to go right? So you probably provide lots of information on your blog or on your website. Maybe it’s about eating gluten free or training for a 5k. Maybe it’s about how to set up processes and systems in your business. Maybe you’re a kick-ass marketer and you show people how to use Facebook ads to make a million bucks (if so, call me).
You get people from all over Canada and maybe all over the world visiting your site? Let’s say, some random lady in Siberia follows your marketing advice and loses, in quick succession, her biggest customer, her business, her house and her prized collection of ceramic cats. She then blames the catastrophe that her life has become on you.
Sounds farfetched? You’d be surprised at how litigious even our fellow Canadians have become. I once gave a consultation to a personal trainer who was being threatened with a lawsuit because someone badly tore a muscle while following tips on lifting weights on the trainer’s site. The injured person missed an important meeting because of the tear and was planning to sue for, among other things, the loss of profit that would have come from that meeting.
The fact is, when you launch a website that sells a product or service or which provides advice, you open yourself up to potential claims. So how do you protect yourself?
Remember the first course? Remember how I said you need contracts for every relationship?
I can hear you now- “How does Andrea expect me to get every visitor to my website to sign a contract? These lawyers are so unrealistic.”
I agree, you can’t get every blog reader to sign a piece of paper with “CONTRACT” in bold across the top but you can still have a contract with them by way of a wonderful string of words called your Terms and Conditions.
You’ve seen them before. The link that some websites have all the way at the bottom of the page. You need one too.
Your Terms and Conditions are what they say on the bottle- the conditions under which you agree to allow people to visit your site, read your content and buy your stuff.
A well drafted Terms and Conditions will stand up and protect you in Canadian courts.
It’s super important not to just copy the Terms and Conditions from another site, even if you think it’s close enough to yours. I recognise this is easier and I am all for ease but 1) someone else’s stuff may not cover all the stuff that you, unique being that you are, offer on your site and 2) when you copy, you may copy obligations that you’re not aware of and that you definitely don’t want to be bound by.
When you draft your own Terms and Conditions, you should include at a minimum:
- An honest explanation of the purpose of the site and what you do with the information you collect.
- If you sell stuff, a clear statement of your policy on payments, returns and cancellations.
- A disclaimer of liability- let people know the information is just that, information, not advice and that you are not responsible if they mess up using that information.
- A section letting people know that all of this beautiful content and design is your intellectual property and bad things will happen to anyone who tries to steal it from you.
- A section telling people which Province’s laws and courts will decide any claim against you. This is especially important when you have visitors from all over as you don’t want to be sued at all but particularly not in courts far away from home. You can use a clause like this:
These Terms and Conditions shall be governed by and construed and interpreted in accordance with the laws of the Province of [name] and the laws of Canada applicable therein. The Parties hereby irrevocably attorn to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of [name of Province] with respect to any matter arising under or related to these Terms and Conditions.
COURT IS NOT FUN. PUT UP YOUR TERMS AND CONDITIONS TODAY.
If any of this has made you go hmm, we should talk.
If any of this has made you think, my friend needs this, sharing is caring so feel free to send them this link via email, Facebook or any other means.