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If you're wondering whether you need a disclaimer for your website, the answer is, yes. Disclaimers are a common defence businesses use against legal claims and it should be one of the first things you pop on your website.
All that legalese might look intimidating but writing your own disclaimer is easier than you think. Read on for more about when you should use a disclaimer, how to write your own and where you can find free templates to take the guesswork out of it.
What is a website disclaimer?
A website disclaimer is an official statement that helps protect your business from legal liability. It notifies readers of your website that your products, services, information and advice may harm them and that you cannot be held liable.
A website disclaimer can also advise users that your content and intellectual property is protected.
When should I use a website disclaimer?
A website disclaimer can be used in several places on your site. Many businesses have a separate page just for the disclaimer and place a link to this in the footer of each page. You can also add the website disclaimer to your website terms and conditions.
Website disclaimer vs website terms and conditions
When launching your website, there are many legal elements that need to be included to make sure your business covers itself. Two that can be confused and sometimes used interchangeably are a website disclaimer and website terms and conditions.
A website disclaimer protects you from claims of liability and states that you are not to be held liable for anything that anyone does with the information found on your website.
Your website terms and conditions, on the other hand, are the general rules of using your website. They state the terms that visitors to your website, users of your services or purchasers of your products must agree to.
What does a website disclaimer include?
While they could all look the same to the casual observer, one size doesn't fit all. A health and wellness business will not have the same elements as an ecommerce business, for example, as each will need to have unique clauses to cover the content on their websites.
Generally speaking, these are some of the most common components you will find in a website disclaimer.
External link disclaimer
If your website contains links to other websites you can include a disclaimer that you do not endorse these links and will not be held responsible for interactions between the third parties and your website visitors.
Professional information disclaimer
Any information or advice given by a qualified or registered professional, such as a lawyer, doctor or accountant is considered professional information.
When your website contains information that could be seen as professional, a disclaimer that the content is not professional advice and informational only may help protect you from any negative experiences your visitors might experience by relying on the information provided.
Affiliate programs disclaimer
An affiliate program is an arrangement where a website posts links to a merchant site and receives compensation when a visitor makes a purchase or clicks on one of the links.
According to Australian Consumer Law, you are required to disclose affiliate links to your website visitors.
Testimonials are statements by clients or customers of your business describing the user experience or results with particular services or products. Testimonials are also covered by Australian Consumer Law.
How effective is a website disclaimer
While not generally required under any specific law, a website disclaimer helps you avoid legal liability in many instances. When you include the right language in your disclaimer, visitors to your website may be restricted on what claims they can bring against your business.
Practically, a website disclaimer can be used by the courts to determine the intent of your business and website practices and the extent of liability for your website content.
Do I need a lawyer for a website disclaimer?
No, you do not need a lawyer to help you write a website disclaimer. Most businesses will find a website disclaimer template is sufficient but if you do have a large website or a complicated business structure, you should consider legal advice to make sure you've covered all your legal bases.
Get access to customisable website disclaimer templates online
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How do I write a website disclaimer?
Knowing how to write a disclaimer for your site could be a confusing process. There are no real regulatory requirements for you to follow and it's inadvisable to copy another website's disclaimer as each website and business is unique.
When writing your own website disclaimer, it's important to consider the legal challenges that could impact the long-term success of your business. Using a website disclaimer template takes the guesswork out of the process and with many free and low-cost options available online, there's no real reason to go it alone.
Where to get free legal documents and templates including website disclaimers
- Lawpath. An online legal resource for entrepreneurs and small businesses, Lawpath has a free website disclaimer sample available but you'll have to sign-up to access customisation options.
- SEQ Legal. SEQ Legal has free and premium legal templates available to download including a website disclaimer template.
- Termly. Termly provides tools and resources to help businesses set up websites that are compliant with data privacy and business laws. You can create a custom disclaimer for free with its website disclaimer template.
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