There is a great deal of legal information on the web. Much of this information is published on websites with a legal focus, whether those of law firms, barristers' chambers, NGOs, legal journals, legal support businesses or individual lawyers. The legal information comes in many forms: subject introductions, summaries of statutes, case reports, professional practice notes, academic analysis, and so on. One risk that almost all legal information publishers face is that users will treat information as advice, and rely upon it to their detriment. How should this risk be managed?
The website publisher should institute procedures to reduce the risk that defective information will be published, or that users will rely upon the published legal information (whether defective or not) without taking professional advice. The publisher should also incorporate appropriate disclaimers of liability into the website.
This template is designed to help with the second of these tasks, as well as covering all the usual subject matter of website terms and conditions.
Two broad groups of liability disclaimer are included in the document. The first covers legal information specifically. It specifies that information rather than advice is published on the website, and that users should not rely upon that information without further enquiry. The second covers general categories of loss, excluding and restricting certain types of loss which might otherwise be recoverable by a person overcoming the first type of liability disclaimer. Of course, all limitations of liability are subject to review by the courts, and you will need to adapt the limitations in the document to suit the particular circumstances of the website in question.
A special, optional clause is included to cover interactive informational services (eg Q&As).
In addition, this document includes provisions relating to: (i) copyright matters, dealing with the ownership of rights and the rights of users to use the website; (ii) licensing of content uploaded to the website by users; (iii) forms of acceptable and unacceptable website usage; (iv) breaches of the terms and conditions; and (v) user accounts, usernames and passwords, as well as general boilerplate provisions.