One of the key elements of a business website’s design elements, the Disclaimer is a good start to meeting some of your legal obligations associated with owning a website and the information contained within it.
A disclaimer should clearly state the limitations of liability when using the website and the information it contains, along with an explanation of the relationship with any external links.
Devoting an entire page to a disclaimer is not always necessary, at times disclaimers are found under general ‘Terms and Conditions’ or mixed in with privacy policies or copyright statements.
Typically a website disclaimer will include;
It is important to note that the presence of a disclaimer on your website does not necessarily guarantee that its terms will be recognised and enforced if there were ever an actual legal dispute.
A disclaimer is however a useful way of gaining some protection from any action taken against you by a third party and can be used to support your case as long as the disclaimer is not unfair and is clearly accessible/visible on your site.
In some countries, disclaimers are only legally enforceable if written in CAPITAL LETTERS. This is something you should research before publishing your online disclaimer.
There are many types of disclaimers, their purpose will depend on the kind of website you have and whether you are selling products or services etc. The following are 4 common disclaimers found on websites, these are sometimes expressed separately or more commonly all together as one general disclaimer.
A ‘limited liability’ disclaimer is what we would traditionally think of as a limited no responsibility disclaimer. These are commonly placed on websites to prevent your business from being held responsible for any damages that may arise from using your website. They do not have the power to void any implied or specific warranties required by law.
A ‘views expressed’ disclaimer is commonly displayed on websites in relation to any comments, articles, blog posts or other public content that is considered the thoughts and opinions of the specific author, not necessarily the entire company as a whole.
An ‘at your own risk’ disclaimer is usually provided when websites are in the habit of providing things like instructions and advice. These are to make readers aware that the person writing the material is not an expert on the matter and any advice given should be taken as a guide only.
The ‘errors and omissions’ disclaimer is commonly found on websites for the purpose of letting the reader know there may be errors and/or exclusions within the published material the owner/author isn’t to be held liable for damages that may arise.
For those looking for a more general disclaimer here is a simple example where you can fill in your own details as required.
“Company X provides the insert URL here website as a service to the public. Company X is not responsible for, and expressly disclaims all liability for, damages of any kind arising out of use, reference to, or reliance on any information contained within this website.
While the information contained within this website is periodically updated, no guarantee is given that the information provided in this website is correct, complete, and up-to-date.
Although the Company X website may include links providing direct access to other Internet resources, including websites, Company X is not responsible for the accuracy or content of information contained in these sites.
Links from Company X to third-party sites do not constitute an endorsement by Company X of the parties or their products and services. The appearance on this website of advertisements and product or service information does not constitute an endorsement by Company X, and Company X has not investigated the claims made by any advertiser. Product information is based solely on material received from suppliers.”
Yes you can create your own disclaimer statements on your website and here is a handy tool to help you get it right.
Keep in mind these examples are provided as a guide only, always remember it is best to check with a professional legal adviser to ensure that your site meets all its necessary legal obligations. The laws surrounding online disclaimers, privacy policies, copyright and terms and conditions can be complex and may differ between countries.
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