A website disclaimer is a legal notice, generally found in the footer of webpages, that helps limit any liabilities that could result from the contents of the site.
For instance, if your website provides instructions to users about how to erect and dismantle a basic scaffold, your website disclaimer can be used to advise your visitors that they are using this information at their own risk.
In this post, we cover four things that you should not include in your website disclaimer.
1. Leave Certain Disclosures Out of Your Disclaimer
The purpose of a disclaimer is to help avoid potential legal battles involving the contents of your website. You use it to outline the risks of using your site (or the information on your site), what is or isn’t guaranteed, any uncertainties, and more. It is not where you make all kinds of disclosures about your site, unless it directly applies to something you cannot warrant.
For instance, let’s say you are a middle-aged woman running a site that provides legal information but is not a law firm. For this type of site, there’s no legal reason to tell users you’re a 45-year-old woman, but you may face some legal troubles if you neglect to tell users that your site’s legal information was not written by a law firm.
There is a limit to how much you should or shouldn’t disclose in your disclaimer, and a good rule of thumb is to include anything that, if not disclosed, could become an issue in a courtroom and leave the rest out.
2. Don’t Include Your Company Fees
A website disclaimer is no place for your company’s fees, and a pricing page or an agreement is the best place to advise your clients of the costs associated with your service.
For example, if you’re a freelance writer and you charge your clients fees for additional services (like formatting documents or uploading content to a content management system), you shouldn’t include this information in your disclaimer—even if it applies to all your clients.
Instead, you should put details about your services, including costs, in the Consulting Agreement you sign with clients before taking on a new project.
3. Avoid Blanket Confidentiality Clauses
Perhaps the purpose of your website is to find clients so you may conduct business that involves confidential information. Or you need to collect confidential information in order to provide a service to your clients. Whatever the case may be, a website disclaimer is not the place to include a catch-all confidentiality clause or agreement.
Confidentiality is better handled case-by-case using a Confidentiality Agreement or a confidentiality clause in another agreement (like a Service Agreement) so that the terms are adequately captured and applies to the circumstance that requires confidentiality.
4. A Lot of Generic Text
There are no standard clauses for disclaimers, which means you have to skillfully draft (or have someone else draft) a statement that applies to your website and that will protect you from liabilities specific to your circumstances. Copying a generic disclaimer from another site is not recommended and can sometimes land you in hot water if you use statements that do not apply to your site or are too ambiguous. Instead, consider the potential issues that could arise from people using your website and create a statement that applies to your situation.
Writing Your Website Disclaimer
A disclaimer helps limit liability for your website. It should be reserved to outline the risks associated with your site or things you cannot guarantee. Remember, a website disclaimer should not include information such as company fees or confidentiality clauses, as it’s better to address these terms elsewhere.