Most organizations possess one main asset that is often underutilized and rarely respected as the legal shield it is--their Web site. With proper maintenance and care, an organization's Web site can provide a legal default when speed or other business factors inhibit careful legal planning. Used properly and consistently, a Web site can, at its best, deflect significant liabilities, and, at worst, put both contracting parties on equal footing.
The key to successful Web site use is posting up-to-date and complete versions of a company's boilerplate legal documents. These documents should represent the ideal legal protections for your organization's specific needs. At a minimum, purchase order terms and conditions should include termination language (so the company can exit bad deals quickly), indemnification language (protecting the company against the other's wrongful conduct), and express and broad warranty language (protecting the functionality of a buyer's purchase). In contrast, terms acknowledging a sale ought to contain express and broad warranty disclaimers and liability limitations (disclaiming any implied statutory warranties and otherwise limiting the buyer's remedies for any warranty breach). Other provisions might include favorable payment terms and a company's choice of governing law.
In all cases, the terms should be tailored to meet your company's specific needs and address any common problems. They can, and should, be lengthy documents that cover any myriad of contracting issues and standard legal liabilities that surround your particular industry. Keep in mind that these should be your business's ideal terms--terms that fully reflect your business needs.
Finally, the legal portion of the Web site should be easily accessible to customers and suppliers. All this takes is one link on your home page to "legal" or "business terms" or some other similar concept, and customers, suppliers and your own employees will have fast, easy access to all of your best legal protections.
Source: Inside Supply Management, http://www.ism.ws
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