Website terms and conditions: membership sites

The terms and conditions on your website form the contract between you and your visitors and customers. Clear, precise and complete T&C should protect your business from claims and reassure visitors that they should trade with you. The terms and conditions templates on this page are for sites that have a paid membership scheme, such as a business club or dating site.

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Templates

Website terms and conditions template: member services for businesses

This template has been drawn for sites that provide membership services to businesses, such as business introductions, trade associations, business support networks and subscription based business discussion boards. It includes strong protection against misuse use of your site and posting of offensive or inappropriate content - terms likely to be important when members can interact with other on the site.

Website terms & conditions template: membership based services

This T&C template governs the use of websites that provide membership-based services, such as introduction sites, dating sites, fan clubs, enthusiast sites and support networks. Inclusion of terms that comply with European Union (Consumer Information, Cancellation and Other Rights) Regulations 2013 make it suitable for consumer- and business-related sites. It includes strong protection against misuse use of your site and posting of offensive or inappropriate content - terms likely to be important when members can interact with other on the site.

Website T&C template: sports club or other organisation; membership managed online

This T&C template is for use by a club, society or other organisation that takes applications for membership and payment through its website, subject to approval. The document includes terms for online member interaction, such as use of message boards or posting of photos. It can be used by businesses to promote a community around a brand or product, or by unincorporated associations such as social clubs and non-profits.

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Written in plain English

We avoid legal terminology unless necessary. Plain English makes our documents easy to understand, easy to edit and more liklely to be accepted.

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Guidance notes included

You don’t need legal knowledge to use our documents. We explain what to edit and how in the guidance notes included at the end of the document.

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We offer free support by email in respect of editing the document. You can also use our Document Review Service if you want to our legal team to check that the document will do as you intend.

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Up to date with the latest law

Our documents comply with the latest relevant law. Our lawyers regularly review how new law affects each document in our library.

Terms and conditions that will protect your business

These T&C will form the contract between your site and your members. Without them, it is much harder to protect your business if your visitors behave in a detrimental way.

What you will find in our documents

We provide an acceptable use policy, setting out what visitors can do on your site. We also include terms applicable to selling subscriptions.

No term appears in every template we sell. Each document has been drawn to be relevant to the business we intend to protect.

Use of plain English strengthens the document

Consistent use of plain English and minimal “legalese” throughout helps because:

  1. you can set out clearly how your business works and what your site users can expect
  2. it prevents misunderstandings and makes solving disputes easier
  3. it presents a professional image of your business
  4. it helps ensure customers do not feel intimidated by overly formal or legalistic language
  5. it makes a document easy for you to edit

Extensive guidance to help you edit the template

With each document we include guidance notes that explain the meaning of, how to edit each paragraph. We expect that there will be parts of the document that might not suit your business model exactly because we know every business is different. We can, however, check your edits as part of our additional review service if you would like confirmation that they fit.

Restrictions on what your user may post to your website

Subscribers are likely to be able to interact with your website in some way, whether posting comments or uploading their own content. Having strong security terms in a T&C document is not going to stop crime, but it does:

  • provide a deterrent to any misuse for which you could sue in court
  • prevent you being blamed for criminal or nuisance activity
  • reduce the chance of your being the subject of some bad social medium campaign - particularly important if your members can contribute content to your site that you might not moderate in real time
  • present your site in a strong and purposeful way, giving out a message that you are not a “soft touch”
  • assist in protecting you from civil or criminal charges for which you may otherwise be liable as a result of what someone else posts to your website
  • provide permission for you to remove offensive content and generally stay in full control of what happens on your website

By using these provisions, we give you the best possible defence against anyone who claims he has been insulted, injured, or defamed.

Particular terms which are included where relevant.

Provisions specifically for membership sites

Membership and subscription sites vary widely. You can use a subscription business model not only to sell goods or services but also to provide information or regulate a free service.

A key point in paid membership sites business models is how and when to obtain payment. You cannot unilaterally renew a contract. However, if you continue a course of action and your customer accepts or acquiesces, he cannot later complain if he has continued to enjoy the services. In reality many Internet contracts are continued from year to year. We cover this thoroughly of course.

The best way to deal with this issue is to provide a warning to a customer or member about four weeks before you take payment, with a copy of the invoice against which payment will be taken. You then take the payment on the due date and send a new message to your customer or member to confirm.

Where applicable the template includes terms that help you to comply with European Union (Consumer Information, Cancellation and Other Rights) Regulations 2013, making it suitable whether your members are private individuals or businesses.

Other terms

Disclaimers

We provide disclaimers. They are not always binding because you can disclaim only so far as the law allows. If you overstep the mark, your disclaimer will be void.

Intellectual property protection

We provide the strongest protection for your IP rights, whether your business is “IP light” or involves complex software and systems.

Suitable for sites with international visitors

Our documents are written to cover international use because most websites are likely to attract visitors from across the world.

Every document is drawn under the Irish laws but much is likely to be enforceable in many other legal jurisdictions as well.

Advertising

Your business model might include advertising revenue in some way. Our documents do not cover this because those arrangements are between you and your advertisers, rather than between you and your visitors. But we do include general terms intended to protect you from a claim by a site user in respect of anything he or she might claim against you. 

Visitor data storage

We make sure your user does not expect you to keep his data indefinitely, or at all. We also cover you against any claim that you are in breach of any customer “right” covering his data.

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