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What Are the Terms and Conditions and When Are They Needed?

“Terms and Conditions” is the document governing the contractual relationship between the provider of a service and its user. On the web, this document is often also called “Terms of Service” (ToS), “Terms of Use”, EULA (“End-User License Agreement”), “General Conditions” or “Legal Notes”.

The Terms and Conditions are nothing other than a contract in which the owner clarifies the conditions of use of its service. Some quick examples are the use of the content (copyright) , the rules that users must follow while interacting with one another on the website / app and, finally, rules related to the cancellation or suspension of a user’s account etc.

Particular emphasis should be given to the limitation of liability clauses (and disclaimers) , for example the case of malfunctions of the app or website.

The Terms and Conditions therefore, represent the document that helps in dealing with problems or preventing them in the first place. Because of that, the Terms and Conditions are fundamental in many cases in order to mount an adequate and proper defense.

Terms of Service set the way in which your product, service or content may be used, in a legally binding way. They are crucial for protecting your content from a copyright perspective as well as for protecting you from potential liabilities.

What should I do if I run an e-commerce website? Is it recommended to create a Terms and Conditions document?

Yes, it is not only advisable but also often mandatory.

Not only are terms critically important for protecting you from potential liabilities, but they regularly contain legally mandated information such as users’ rights, withdrawal or cancellation disclosures.

Generally, a website / app should have an accurate and valid Terms of Service document in place whenever complex issues are at stake, such as in the case of e-commerce, where sensitive information such as payment data is processed.

In e-commerce sites, the Terms of Service is typically the document that contains information related to conditions of sale and disclosures on methods of payment, shipping, delivery, withdrawals, and cancellation conditions etc. – as commonly required by consumer protection regulations. European providers of B2C services (selling goods / services) are also required to include, among other things, an Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) statement that explains the mandatory dispute resolution process online.

Can I use a terms and conditions template?

Despite how simple they appear, terms and conditions are meant to meet incredibly complex and highly specific scenarios. Because each terms and conditions document is a legally binding contract that is meant to protect you, the business owner, it’s imperative that the document matches your specific business processes, model, and remains up-to-date with the various laws referenced in its contents. Templates simply cannot do this, therefore, we strongly suggest that you avoid using templates. Read our extended answer to this question here.

Terms of Use vs. Terms of Service: what’s the difference between Terms and Conditions, Terms of Service and Terms of Use?

In general, there is no legal difference. Terms and conditions, terms of service and terms of use are names all used to refer to the same document. The particular name used at any point in time is simply a matter of preference.

Privacy Policy vs. Terms and Conditions: what’s the difference between these two legal documents?

Privacy policy and terms and conditions are both legally binding agreements, but:

  • Privacy policies are legally required under most countries’ legislations. They protect and inform your users and declare your compliance with applicable privacy laws in a legally binding way. While they do give you some leeway in terms of stating things such as how you handle “do not track” requests, they are generally aimed at protecting the user (more in our Legal Requirements Overview).
  • Terms and conditions are aimed at protecting the business (you). They give business owners the opportunity to set their rules (within applicable law) of how their service or product may be used including, but not limited to, things like copyright conditions, age limits, and the governing law of the contract. While terms are generally not legally required (like the privacy policy), it is essential for protecting your interests as a business owner.
More on compliance for eCommerce websites

Check this article about compliance for eCommerce websites:

👉 A Sample Terms and Conditions Document for Your Online Store

Customizable from over 100 clauses, available in 10 languages, drafted by an international legal team and up to date with the main international legislations, our Terms and Conditions Generator is capable of handling even the most complex, individual scenarios and customization needs.

Our solution works for businesses of any size, from the single blogger to enterprise level organizations, protecting their interests and their content.It’s optimized for e-commerce, marketplace, SaaS, mobile apps, blogs, publications and more.

For more information

read our guide on How to Generate a Terms and Conditions document.

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