General terms and conditions for websites: Legal certainty on the internet

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Buying clothes or booking the next trip: our lives are taking place more and more in virtual worlds. At the same time, the number of people with their own website is growing. After all, many want earn money as an affiliate. This also increases uncertainty: Do I even need terms and conditions on my website? If so, what belongs in it and what do I have to consider?

General terms and conditions make life easier for contractual partners

Once you connect with others through your website, you will do certain things over and over again. Selling, providing information, or simply communicating with others: It makes sense if you regulate your procedure in one central place. And once and for all: It saves you a lot of work. The General Terms and Conditions (GTC) apply to this.

What belongs in it is extremely diverse. Some examples:

  • Limitation periods for defects
  • Jurisdiction Agreements
  • Limitations of Liability.

You may have heard from the press that banks recently had difficulties with their general terms and conditions. In 2021, the Federal Court of Justice ruled that many of these terms and conditions were inadmissible. That means: Even professionals are often not sure what belongs in the terms and conditions and how it should be worded. It is all the more important for every website operator to to know.

A practical example of the importance for smaller websites:

Example online yoga class. Instead of explaining to each interested party individually what happens if they withdraw, you regulate everything in the general terms and conditions. Describe it there in as much detail as possible. Then all you have to do is refer new customers to it when they sign the contract.

It's not just practical. It also protects you from conflicts of any kind. Of course, from those with the course participants themselves, but also from problems with the competition. Because as soon as you make even one mistake, the risk of a warning increases.

Caution, warning

Then you might have created your general terms and conditions carefully. Diligence alone is not enough, however. In order to be legally secure, they must meet certain conditions.

Most importantly, they are effective within the meaning of the law. Among other things, they must not contain any formulations that could mislead your customers or business partners. In the eyes of the law, this is regarded as unreasonable disadvantage, regulated in accordance with Section 307 (1) of the German Civil Code. It is not easy to really rule out every case that can occur in reality. This applies to laypeople as well as to powerful banks.

Your competitors, warning lawyers and business associations can issue warnings to you. The legislature is constantly making improvements here, tooto protect the websites from excesses of the warning system. However, you will only be immune to this danger if you provide the terms and conditions with certain properties.

Effectively include terms and conditions

All contractual partners must be given the opportunity to read your terms and conditions before the contract is concluded. How you do this depends on the nature of your business relationships. In the case of sales, for example, it is standard to clearly state this. Before the actual sale, the customer must also actively confirm that he accepts the conditions. Otherwise there is no contract at all.

For which websites the terms and conditions are important

It is therefore advisable for all operators of their own website to set up legally secure general terms and conditions. However, they are not required by law. However, as you have seen, it simplifies many things. You should therefore ensure that you keep your terms and conditions accurate and up to date.

Always on the safe side: You can do this!

If you don't know your way around well, or if you don't have the time for it, you should entrust the wording of your terms and conditions to a professional. For example, you can here create general terms and conditions inexpensively and easily to let. The investment is worth it: You avoid trouble, you can feel safe and you can finally devote yourself to what is really important to you!

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