Starting an Online Business: A Quick Legal Checklist!
Author Grace Cue
Everyday I am contacted by lawyers who are ready to make a leap; maybe they’re working on a side-hustle to compliment their legal life, maybe they’re productising their IP to add a competitive edge to their business (something I highly recommend you explore) or maybe they’re putting law land to the side to focus on a completely new and different endeavour. Whatever it may be, I think you’d be challenged to find a lawyer who hasn’t at one point thought about what more they could offer.
I’m sure I don’t have to tell lawyers that no matter how creative and fun starting a new business can be, your legal obligations around this time are not to be taken lightly. As a family lawyer, setting up businesses is not really my thing but lucky for me (and you!) some of our legal colleagues have set up some great tools to help us along the way!
This week, Grace from Law Squared- a firm known for its clever solutions for new businesses of all shapes and sizes- is here to take us through a few of the things we need to think about when it comes to start ups in law.
You have a great idea for a product or service, you have your website up and running, and you’re getting ready to go to market online. It’s an exciting time and the last thing you want to think about is your company’s and your website’s legal compliance. But it’s an important step to take to ensure that disputes over the use of your website and the purchasing of your products/services don’t arise, or if they do, that you have the right protections and agreements in place to protect both you and the consumer.
There are many legal considerations when it comes to creating an online business and as part of my work at Cubed by Law Squared I am able to share some of the most important steps to ensure that you begin your startup journey on the right foot.
Use of Your Website by Customers
Engagement with Your Customers
Terms and conditions are also a useful document to put in place for your website particularly to govern any monetary or service exchanges. Website Terms and Conditions create IP rights, and impose rights and responsibilities on both the user and the owner of the domain. A Terms and Conditions document ought to contain details about how a commercial transaction unfolds. How do your customers pay for and receive your goods and services? How much do they have to pay for them? Having these details set out in black and white helps to prevent unnecessary disputes arising and allows for speedy dispute resolution.
Privacy of Your User's Information
On a website intellectual property (IP) can encompass anything from the name of the company and its logo to the source code in the background. Protection of your IP is important to a company as it preserves your rights to those elements now and into the future and stops others from using them unnecessarily unless permission is given through an IP Assignment or Licence Agreement.
Protection of IP often is a process of trademarking your designs, logo and name (among other elements of your website). If you are looking to commercialise or protect your IP for the benefit of your business, you can contact the team at Cubed by Law Squared for more information.
Returns and Defects for Online Product Sales
Return policies and product defects often arise in the area of consumer law when online businesses selling goods end up in trouble with consumers and in serious situations, with the ACCC. It is often tempting, or seems logical, to exclude returns or exchanges on items or goods purchased more than three months ago; however, ensuring you are compliant with consumer laws is important. Some key areas where businesses get it wrong on returns:
- ‘We do not provide refunds’ – this is a breach of the Australian Consumer Law and should not be written anywhere on your website;
- ‘No refunds on sale items’ – same as above
- ‘Major faults vs. minor faults’ –
- If MAJOR – the consumer can elect to have a replacement or a refund for the goods or services
- If MINOR – the consumer has a right for the fault to be repaired without a refund
Law Graduate & Legal Project Officer at
Hi! I am Grace a Law Graduate and Legal Project Officer at Law Squared.
After first beginning my time at Law Squared as a Legal Project Officer in early 2018, I have moved into the position of Graduate Lawyer within the Employment + Workplace Relations team.
I am eager and excited for what the future holds, currently working behind the scenes, creating content, providing day-to-day support, and exercising my developing legal skills in the employment law arena, under the guidance of Andrew Brooks and Catherine Brooks.
At the same time, I am currently undertaking my PLT at Leo Cussen part-time. Outside the office, I enjoy playing sport, going to escape rooms, and coaching my old high school badminton team on weekends. Otherwise, I am is often found playing guitar or playing video games with my partner Ryan.