Posted on: 25 August 2017
Surprisingly, many Australian business owners are yet to make the leap from a bricks and mortar establishment into online trading. If you are one of their number, it's important for you to consider your virtual commercial opportunities, but you also need to ensure that you are doing it properly. In particular, you need to be happy that your virtual contracts are valid and could be enforced, if need be. What do you need to consider?
No matter where you are across the country, you will be able to take advantage of uniform legislation that's been introduced by various governments to cover any transactions online. This is meant to protect consumers in the first place, but makes it a lot easier for retailers to compete with each other.
Any transactions made online still have to conform with the basic elements of contract law, if they are to be enforceable. This means that the buyer must have given their consent through an implied or express agreement. In other words, you must have made an offer and the customer must have accepted it, by giving you due consideration (i.e. money) in exchange. Both parties must have legal capacity to enter into such a contract, which usually means that the customer has to be over the age of adulthood.
In order to make sure you are covered, therefore, you will need your customers to agree to your terms and conditions. Typically, these are presented within a special "box" and the customer cannot proceed to buy until they scroll through these terms and conditions first. Then, they will have to enter a "tick" into a box, or click on a specific button to agree to the terms.
You have to tell customers that every transaction is governed by contract law and this disclaimer must be placed on each web page in a prominent position. You also have to make it very clear to them what they are doing when they enter the tick, or click the button. The information has to be kept in electronic form, but it's a good idea to make it available to download as well.
If you want to be even more sure of your ground, it's possible to accept a digital signature as a form of identification. You can get a special certificate from the government, in order to use this method.
Finally, if you do happen to conduct your business overseas, you should bear in mind that certain other international laws may affect you. As this can be quite challenging to unravel, it's best if you talk with a commercial lawyer who specialises in this field to give you guidance.Share