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Perspective

Why should online retailers seek help with their T&Cs?

Businesses that have turned to online sales to assist customers during COVID-19 lockdowns, or that have responded to the rise of digital commerce, require specific terms and conditions to minimise their legal risks, writes Sotheary Bryant.

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The growth of direct online sales has been one of the silver linings of COVID-19 for many businesses. This trend is unlikely to change in the aftermath of the pandemic – whether it is for manufacturers, retailers such as restaurants and clothing merchants, or myriad other businesses – given that so many new customers have embraced the convenience of buying online.

Nevertheless, enterprises that have in the past focused on sales to wholesalers and other business-to-business (B2B) operators, and who are now targeting business-to-consumer (B2C) sales, should be aware of the potential implications and risks of this shift.

Historically, many of them have shunned formal contracts and relied on a basic quote for goods and services, rather than drafting tailored terms and conditions (T&Cs). This is especially risky with online sales given the automatic nature of such transactions.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) will take action for contravention of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (CCA) and the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).

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