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If you're operating a marketplace that connects product sellers and service providers with buyers, you'll want to ensure you set out the terms and conditions of using the site in a way that'll legally watertight. This is so that your business isn't held liable for problems that may arise between those sellers and buyers.
The good news is you don't have to write them all out – there are legal document templates online you can customise for your business. We've got the lowdown on where to find them. Let's take a closer look.
What are marketplace terms and conditions?
A terms and conditions page, in this context, explains the role of a marketplace in facilitating connections between buyers and sellers. The terms establish the liability that the marketplace will and will not accept, including disclaimers that reject liability for interactions between the buyers and sellers, and for the quality of products and services offered.
The terms and conditions also cover the acceptable use of seller and buyer accounts, including prohibiting the sale of illegal goods and services or uploading copyrighted content, as well as payment terms and customer complaints procedures.
Am I required to display marketplace terms and conditions?
Businesses in Australia are legally required to include policies including terms and conditions on their websites. They effectively act as a contract between the business and the user and serve as legal protection.
Operating a marketplace opens your business up to the risk of disputes over liability when things go wrong, over the use of personal information and over the handling of payments. Having a written policy that marketplace users agree to can head off problems and help to resolve issues that arise.
It is also useful to display terms and conditions so that buyers and sellers understand how the marketplace works and can find answers to commonly asked questions.
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Where do these terms and conditions need to be displayed?
Terms and conditions should be displayed on a dedicated page on the website, linked from the home page and in places where users sign up for accounts. For example, online marketplace Airtasker links to its Terms and Conditions page from the footer on its website as well as its sign-up screen.
Marketplace terms and conditions vs terms of service
How do I write marketplace terms and conditions?
A terms and conditions page should be written in clear and concise language so that it is easy for users to understand. It should be well formatted into sections using subheadings and bullet points. You can find online templates below to help you write the document and tailor it to the needs of your marketplace.
What do marketplace terms and conditions commonly include and not include?
Terms and conditions cover a host of clauses that apply to the marketplace provider, sellers and buyers, so they can become lengthy documents.
The document should outline the specific rules of the user agreement. This may include:
- Services provided
- Marketplace obligations
- User obligations
- Liability and other disclaimers
- Fees and payments
- Third-party services
- Dispute resolution
- Agreement termination
Typically not included
You should avoid including unnecessary jargon and acronyms, as it will confuse the reader and make it more difficult to understand. This could weaken the legal defence the document can provide as a judge may argue that a user can not be held liable given the ambiguity.
How effective are terms and conditions for a marketplace?
As previously mentioned, a terms and conditions policy is a legally binding agreement that will help your business run smoothly by addressing potential issues with buyers and sellers upfront. It will help to:
- Define marketplace obligations
- Outline the responsibilities of marketplace sellers
- Resolve questions of liability
- Handle disputes
- Avoid illegal marketplace activity.
How to get customers to agree to your terms and conditions
Users may be tempted to avoid reading them, so one way to prompt them is to accept the terms and conditions is to set up a button or check box at the bottom of the page that the user must click to proceed. This could be done on the sign-up screen so that users know where they stand from the beginning. If the marketplace has a mobile app, you may want to include a link on the installation screen.
Do I need to use a lawyer?
As a legally binding document required for online marketplaces, it may well be advisable to have a lawyer look over your terms and conditions.
You can opt to have a lawyer draft the document, or you can use a legal template that you can customise and have the lawyer review it for you afterwards.
Where to find marketplace terms and conditions templates online
- Lawpath. Lawpath is an online legal resource for small businesses with an extensive range of documents. Users can download samples for free, including terms and conditions tailored to be used for online marketplaces, but you must register an account to access customisation options.
- Net Lawman. Net Lawman has an extensive range of legal document templates, including several options for marketplace terms and conditions from both the seller side and buyer side. You can pay $34 for a template, or $233 to have a lawyer review the document for you.
- Wonder.Legal. Wonder.Legal has a range of legal document templates in its online library, all of which can be customised and downloaded for a one-time fee. The website terms and conditions template is $19.99 to download.
Other documents you may need
When you operate an online marketplace, you will also need other legal documents to protect your business. These include:
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