Copying Legal Documents – Should I do it?

The three most common documents we draft for our clients are Terms and Conditions, Website Terms of Use and Privacy Policies. Why? Because every business needs these three documents. Every one.

Why it’s Tempting…

When clients first come to us many have attempted to draft these documents themselves. The problem is that they have often copied and modified these documents from someone else, usually a similar business they’ve found online.

We understand, it can be tempting, particularly when it can be scary and expensive to see a ‘traditional’ lawyer who charges by the hour and doesn’t tell you how long they will take to complete your legal work.

The Risks

Copying legal documents may make you think you’re saving valuable time and money. However, it can be a very costly mistake. Not only are you breaching copyright by doing this, but you are potentially exposing your business to risk and liability.

Recently a client came to us with what appeared to be reasonably well-drafted Terms and Conditions. That is until we saw all of the terms regarding online lotteries. The problem was that our client’s business was a vitamin company. They did not conduct online lotteries. Our client had inadvertently copied irrelevant terms from someone else and had been using these Terms and Conditions for two years. By doing this they exposed themselves to a potential penalty from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission as their terms could have been said to be confusing and/or misleading.

Why You Need Tailored Documents

Putting aside the risk of penalties or breaching copyright, if you’re serious about your business then you won’t want to copy legal documents.  You will want to create tailored legal documents that create binding agreements with people that visit your website, buy your products or engage your services. Think of it as a layer of protection. They help you set out the limitations, warranties and indemnities for your business, and as a byproduct, they often also help you get clear about your business processes. Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been trading for some time, these documents will help you protect all that you’ve created.

If you’re ready to take the leap to connect with a business lawyer. If you would like to book a Quick Match, please follow the links on the Legally Yours website.

This article is written by Karen Finch and was first published on the Legally Yours website.

This article does not constitute legal advice or a legal opinion on any matter discussed and, accordingly, it should not be relied upon. It should not be regarded as a comprehensive statement of the law and practice in this area. If you require any advice or information, please speak to practising lawyer in your jurisdiction. No individual who is a member, partner, shareholder or consultant of, in or to any constituent part of Legally Yours Pty Ltd accepts or assumes responsibility, or has any liability, to any person in respect of this article.

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