Selling online: consumer contracts

Essential terms of an online contract

Any terms and conditions that you use should be tailored to the needs of your business. Generally any contract for goods or services should address:

  • the description of goods or services being supplied
  • the price and payment structure
  • the delivery details, including the time, place and who is responsible for delivery
  • the rights of either party to terminate the contract
  • limitation of liability provisions
  • confidentiality provisions, particularly if the contract is of a sensitive nature
  • confirmation of which country's laws apply to the contract

Consumer protection legislation

Consumer protection legislation extends to cover goods sold over the internet. Find out about unfair contracts in our guide to buyers' terms and conditions and unfair contract terms.

It is an offence to give consumers misleading price information about goods, services, immoveable property, rights and obligations.

Limitation of liability clauses

Clauses limiting one or both parties' liability are usually the most contentious. There are restrictions on the ability of businesses to limit their liability. Generally, clauses limiting liability need to be reasonable in order to be enforceable.

There are stricter rules for businesses dealing with consumers, so that it is more difficult for businesses to impose exclusion of liability clauses.

Dealing with consumers and business customers

For some businesses dealing with both consumers and other business customers, it is usually better to have two sets of terms and conditions. Business customers also have similar protections to consumers from misleading advertising.