Question: When I click the terms and conditions box, on a website, am I legally bound?

Answer: Whether you read it or not, a website’s Terms of Use is actually a legal contract between the website owner and you.  Courts often recognize properly drafted Terms of Use, and enforce their terms.

Contractually speaking, a website could simply state its terms on the home page.  When a user enters a website, they accept its terms – similar to a storefront window sign.  But due to the scope of the internet, and the unknown identity of billions of users, a box click is required.

Here are some terms of use commonly required:

  • Jurisdiction: To avoid being brought across the country or world, a site owner determines home court of jurisdiction, in case of a future lawsuit.
  • Arbitration:   Class action lawsuits are more available in the online world, due to the huge number of users experiencing identical site visits.  A website owner can require users to waive this right in favor of arbitration.
  • Disclaimer of warranties: Have you ever downloaded a virus from a website?  It is rarely the fault of the website owner.  Such a disclaimer protects the owner for unintended consequences of use like malware or viruses.
  • Limitation of allowed conduct: Social media sites especially need to waive liability for the acts of other users.  Have you ever read the hate filled anonymous comments section of a news site?  Facebook has its bully users.  com has produced many bad dates.  Craigslist….oh boy.
Attorney James Haroutunian offers specialized representation to owners selling real estate on their own.  Visit his website blog at www.prioritylaw.com and www.hlawoffice.com and contact him at 790 Boston Road, Billerica with questions at 978-671-0711 or by email at james@hlawoffice.com.

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