11 Jan 2023
9 May 2022
Disclaimers are those statements in the terms and conditions of an online business that help limit the legal liability of the website/app owner in case of any loss/damage to the user arising due to the reliance or use of the content on the website/ app. It is a type of notice to the users of the website/platform/app/blog (‘Platform’) that the owners of the Platform would not be liable in any manner due to the damages arising out of the use of content (whether information, images or audio-visual content) on the Platform. While disclaimers are not a foolproof way to avoid any liability or lawsuits, they definitely help in putting up a strong defence during lawsuits or even reducing the number of damages/compensation that may be ordered by the court.
While technology has eased the process of starting and setting up a new business through the internet. It has also increased the possibility of misuse of the content on a Platform like intellectual property violations, misuse of photos posted on the website, or claims arising due to damages suffered because of following the advice on the blog. While, at the time of posting such information or images, the possibility of a lawsuit is not anticipated, however, the threat is very real. Such a threat is much higher than a traditional business due to the sheer increase in volume and pace of the interactions with customers in the case of an online business, as opposed to a brick-and-mortar business. While in-person interactions in a traditional business allow for more personalized disclaimers to be made orally or correct and customized information to be communicated as per the needs of the consumers, this is usually not the case for online businesses.
Disclaimer can be used to claim ownership over the content posted on the Platform. It can be used to limit the liability of the Platform owner or to also disclaim liability for any interactions with third parties over the Platform.
In order for a disclaimer to be enforceable under law, it is imperative for it to be definitive and fair to the consumers/ users. Liability arising from negligence cannot be disclaimed by the Platform, nor can a Platform include disclaimers that are patently contrary to law, especially contract law.
Disclaimers can be included as a part of the terms and conditions of the Platform or included separately as browse-wrap or click-wrap agreements on the Platform. They can even be hyperlinked at the bottom of the website or as a part of the ‘About’ section in the app. Courts evaluate the content of the disclaimers as well as their placement on the Platform while adjudicating the legal liability of the Platform. However, wherever disclaimers are placed, they must serve as a reasonably conspicuous notice of contract terms to the consumers, in order to serve as an unambiguous manifestation of consumers’ assent and to safeguard against future potential legal issues. If disclaimers are hidden or difficult to find, the purpose is lost, and they are not considered by the courts while deciding liability, in such cases. Therefore, ideally, disclaimers should be the first pop-up that every user reads and agrees to, before beginning to use the platform.
This is used by Platforms that provide legal/financial/medical or other professional information on their platform. This disclaimer states that the information and contents on the Platform are not a source of financial/ legal/ medical/ professional advice or analysis. The statement is used to clarify that the user uses the information at their own risk. This statement also expressly states that the use of the Platform by the user does not constitute any contractual relationship between the user and the Platform. This disclaimer is also used to clarify that the information on the Platform does not constitute any solicitation, recommendation, or endorsement, which may be contrary to the law of such jurisdiction.
Investment/financial advice: A platform for investment advice may go on to state that the user should fully understand the risks and merits of an investment before making an investment decision.
Legal Advice: The disclaimer states that the contents of the platform do not constitute formal legal advice and that the information is not a complete authority on a particular topic and needs to be modified by the user to meet the specific needs of the user. Further, this disclaimer clarifies that reliance on the contents of the platform does not constitute an attorney-client relationship between the user and the Platform, and hence their communication is not protected by the attorney-client privilege.
Medical Advice: The disclaimer in this case specifically mentions that the Platform content is not medical/health advice and that it is not intended to be substituted for professional medical advice or diagnosis or treatment. The disclaimer further clarifies that the information may not be updated, accurate, suitable, reliable, or complete and should be modified as per the specific needs of every individual. This statement advises users to seek professional medical advice from a qualified health care professional prior to starting a new medical regimen.
This disclaimer is used to prevent any liability which may arise due to the views of its employees/ advisers which have been posted on the Platform. It states that the views expressed are strictly those of the author and that it does not necessarily represent the views of the Platform itself.
Platforms use this disclaimer to assume no responsibility if there are any errors or omissions in the contents of the website/ app. The disclaimer mentions that the content on the Platform is on an “as is” basis with no guarantees of completeness, accuracy, usefulness, or timeliness and without any warranties of any kind whatsoever, express or implied.
You can use template disclaimers available on Docpro’s website here.
Disclaimer: Please note that this is a general summary of the position under common law and does not constitute legal advice. As the laws of each jurisdiction may be different, you may wish to consult your lawyer.
Not the right document?
Don’t worry, we have thousands of documents for you to choose from: