Hello, my name is Robin and I own a medium sized business which is based in a suburb of Perth, Australia. Many business owners do not understand the importance of commercial law on their operations. I know that I certainly didn't when I set out. At first, this wasn't an issue but as my business grew, I realised that if I didn't teach myself about the legal rules in place and seek expert help, I would find myself in serious trouble. I got in touch with a great law firm who helped me to understand exactly what I needed to know. I decided to start this blog to help other business owners.
Australian consumers are becoming used to ordering all their products and services online, as it's much easier and means that they can avoid taking a trip, finding a place to park and dealing with crowds. When you combine this simplicity with an increasingly sophisticated delivery and distribution network, it's not surprising to see this upward trend. This is hardly the end for any business that has a brick-and-mortar element, so long as they rapidly embrace the virtual business world. However, as with everything else in commerce, you must be sure that you are protected and that your business contracts are enforceable. How can you achieve this in the online world?
There used to be an element of the Wild West in contracts for many years. Today, the good news is that all states and territories have similar legislation that protects not only consumers but also retailers who engage in electronic business transactions.
Much of this legislation mirrors the conventional world, as each transaction is only valid if the buyer has given their actual consent. This can be implied or expressed to create a contract, but due consideration has to be exchanged in both directions and each party has to have proper capacity to enter into a contract.
Clicks and Taps
This type of transaction is protected whenever somebody taps or clicks in a specific area on the web page. The appropriate language needs to be referenced and this includes a link to the full terms and conditions associated with the transaction. The buyer must be essentially forced to agree to these terms and conditions if they want to proceed by tapping or clicking appropriately.
For the retailer to be fully protected, they must include all relevant information, and this is usually placed on a separate page. The notice that they give to the potential customer must be clear and unambiguous, so that there is no possible confusion.
In the background, the customer's information must be retained so that there is proof that they agreed to the contract before they bought it. This is usually kept in electronic form at the server and can be referenced in case of a legal dispute.
There are several laws that pertain to the storage of this data, especially in the light of new and widespread European Union legislation. As an online seller, you must conform to all this legalese, especially when it comes to protecting the privacy of any consumer.
Understanding the Detail
This can be a minefield to those who have never done it before and certainly when it comes to recent legislation. It's always best to bring in a lawyer to provide advice so that you don't make any mistakes as you expand your operation.