This website disclaimer is a legal notice covering the basic issues that arise out of the operation of a website. It is a shorter version of our website terms and conditions template. It incorporates a licence setting out the basis upon which a website may be used and a set of limitations of liability, and it helps website operators comply with information disclosure laws.
Our disclaimer document is intended for use in relation to the simplest kinds of website that need to comply with English law: information-only websites lacking any significant interactive features (other than hyperlinks and HTML forms). As of April 2012, this disclaimer has been used on more than 400,000 websites.
The disclaimer has three main functions. First, it specifies the basis upon which the website may be used. In order to use a website, it must be copied, and so this takes the form of a copyright licence. Second, it attempts to limit and exclude (disclaimer) various types of liability that may arise from the use of the website. Third, it prompts the publication of certain information that must, under English law, be published on a website.
The document is a shorter version of the basic website terms and conditions document available on this website. The main differences is that this document omits the provisions relating specifically to interactive website features.
The disclaimer document is divided into the following sections: a licence of the copyright in the website (and restrictions on what may be done with the material on the website); a disclaimer of liability (which gives the document its name); a variation clause; a clause specifying the applicable law and the jurisdiction in which disputes will be decided; and a provision specifying some of the information which needs to be disclosed under the Ecommerce Regulations.
Section 1 – Introduction
The completed document should be easily accessible on the website, with a link from every page.
What is the title of the document on the website that contains cookie information?
Section 3 – Copyright notice
What was the year of first publication of the relevant copyright material (or the range of years)? Who is the principal owner of copyright in the website?
Section 4 – Licence to use website
The scope of the licence to use will vary with each site. Consider carefully exactly what your users should be allowed to do with your website and material on your website.
Consider whether to include this element in the document.
For what purposes may the website be used?
Section 5 – Acceptable use
(e) – Should all automated interactions with the website be prohibited?
(f) – Will the website incorporate a robots.txt file?
(g) – Should users be prohibited from using the website for direct marketing activity?
Should the use of data collected from the website to contact people and businesses be prohibited?
What standard of veracity etc should user-submitted content meet?
Section 7 – Limitations and exclusions of liability
Limitations and exclusions of liability are regulated and controlled by law, and the courts may rule that particular limitations and exclusions of liability are unenforceable.
The courts may be more likely to rule that provisions excluding liability, as opposed to those merely limiting liability, are unenforceable.
If there is a risk that any particular limitation or exclusion of liability will be found to be unenforceable by the courts, that provision should be drafted as an independent term, and be numbered separately from the other provisions.
It may improve the chances of a limitation or exclusion of liability being found to be enforceable if it was specifically drawn to the attention of the relevant person.
In English law, exclusions and limitations of liability in legal notices are regulated by the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977 (“UCTA”).
Legal notices regulated by UCTA cannot exclude or restrict a party’s liability for death or personal injury resulting from negligence (Section 2(1), UCTA).
Except insofar as the relevant term satisfies the requirements of reasonableness, such legal notices cannot exclude or restrict liability for negligence (Section 2(2), UCTA).
These guidance notes provide a very incomplete and basic overview of a complex subject. Accordingly, you should take legal advice if you may wish to rely upon a limitation or exclusion of liability.
Do not delete this provision (except upon legal advice). Without this provision, the specific limitations and exclusions of liability in the document are more likely to be unenforceable.
Do you want to attempt to exclude all liability for free services and information?
This sort of exclusion is quite common, but unlikely to be enforceable in court.
If the website operator is a limited liability entity (e.g. a limited company), do you want to expressly exclude liability on the part of officers and employees?
Section 8 – Variation
Changes to legal documents published on a website will not generally be retrospectively effective, and variations without notice to and/or consent from relevant users may be ineffective.
Section 10 – Law and jurisdiction
The questions of which law governs a document, and where disputes relating to the document may be litigated, are two distinct questions.
Which law should govern the document?
This document has been drafted to comply with English law, and the governing law provision should not be changed without obtaining expert advice from a lawyer qualified in the appropriate jurisdiction. In some circumstances the courts will apply provisions of their local law, such as local competition law or consumer protection law, irrespective of a choice of law clause.
Should the jurisdiction granted be exclusive or non-exclusive? Choose “non-exclusive” jurisdiction if you may want to enforce the terms and conditions against users outside England and Wales. Otherwise, choose “exclusive jurisdiction”. The courts of which country or jurisdiction should adjudicate disputes under the document?
In some circumstances your jurisdiction clause may be overridden by the courts.
Section 11 – Statutory and regulatory disclosures
Do the Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002 apply to the website or is the website operator registered for VAT?
This section can be deleted where website operator is not registered for VAT and the Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002 do not apply. Generally, those Regulations will apply unless a website is entirely non-commercial, i.e. where a website does not offer any goods or services and does not involve any remuneration (which includes remuneration for carrying AdSense or other advertising).
Is the website operator registered in a trade or similar register that is available to the public?
What is the name of the trade register? At what URL can the trade register be found? What is the website operator’s registration number?
The Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002 provide that if you are “registered in a trade or similar register available to the public”, you must provide “details of the register in which the service provider is entered and his registration number, or equivalent means of identification in that register”.
Is the website operator subject to an authorisation scheme (e.g. under financial services legislation)?
What is the name of the authorisation scheme to which the website operator is subject? What authority supervises the authorisation scheme?
The Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002 provide that “where the provision of the service is subject to an authorisation scheme” you must provide “the particulars of the relevant supervisory authority”.
Is the service provider a member of a regulated profession (e.g. solicitors)?
What is the website operator’s professional title? Which professional body regulates the website operator? In which jurisdiction was the professional title granted? What is the name of the document containing the rules governing the profession? At what URL can the rules be found?
The Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002 provide that if “the service provider exercises a regulated profession”, it must provide “(i) the details of any professional body or similar institution with which the service provider is registered; (ii) his professional title and the member State where that title has been granted; (iii) a reference to the professional rules applicable to the service provider in the member State of establishment and the means to access them”.
Does the website operator subscribe to any codes of conduct?
Identify the codes of conduct in question. Where can the codes be viewed?
The Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002 provide that “a service provider shall indicate which relevant codes of conduct he subscribes to and give information on how those codes can be consulted electronically”.
Is the website operator registered for VAT?
What is the website operator’s VAT number?
Section 12 – Our details
UK companies must provide their corporate names, their registration numbers, their place of registration and their registered office address on their websites (although not necessarily in this document).
Sole traders and partnerships that carry on a business in the UK under a “business name” (i.e. a name which is not the name of the trader/names of the partners or certain other specified classes of name) must also make certain website disclosures: (i) in the case of a sole trader, the individual’s name; (ii) in the case of a partnership, the name of each member of the partnership; and (iii) in either case, in relation to each person named, an address in the UK at which service of any document relating in any way to the business will be effective. All websites covered by the Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002 must provide a geographic address (not a PO Box number) and an email address. All website operators covered by the Provision of Services Regulations 2009 must also provide a telephone number.
What is the name of the company, partnership, individual or other legal person or entity that owns and operates the website?
Is the website operator a company?
In what jurisdiction is the website operator registered? What is the website operator’s company registration number or equivalent? What is the website operator’s registered address?
Where is the website operator’s head office or principal place of business?
What is the website operator’s contact email address? What is the website operator’s contact telephone number?