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legal cover for web design companies

 7:40 pm on Feb 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

ok people, does anyone here have any kind of legal cover to protect them from idiots who expect to earn millions from your web design services but don't and then get annoyed? what about your terms and conditions? how far do they extend?

i'm lucky in that every client i've had has been pleased with what i've done for them, and those that have helped themselves have had success, but i'm wary that i might end up getting some oddball client who is NEVER satisfied and might try to hold me to blame.

any thoughts or comments??



 8:04 pm on Feb 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

i might end up getting some oddball client who is NEVER satisfied and might try to hold me to blame.

sounds like my boss on a good day!! :)


 8:04 pm on Feb 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

CF, take a look at this thread [webmasterworld.com], there's a link to a great prenuptial agreement that helps iron out some of the unrealistic expectations.


 10:48 am on Feb 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

cheers rcjordan, but i'm looking at more than that including legal insurances. one client i have is verging on suing his former web designers for poor advice etc - they advised him to send email spam and his site got taken down and took months to get back online - nobody wanted him. i had to build him a new site. he's very wary of all web designers now even though i got him top rankings all over the place.


 11:57 am on Feb 4, 2002 (gmt 0)


It sounds like you're talking about two different things: design versus promotion (example- the spam Emails).

It's necessary to explain to people that webs are not different than brick-and-mortar businesses. Both require advertising and customer satisfaction. Too often I believe most people think Internet + Web Site = $.

Personally, I tell everyone up front that I don't guarantee anything and just because you have a web site doesn't mean you're going to make money. I include factors such as competition from existing sites and time lapses from submitting to SE's to actually getting indexed. I always discourage the use of spam and explain the potential hazards. Beyond submitting sites to SE's, I don't get too involved in promotions. There are people more skilled in that than I.


 5:49 pm on Feb 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

marshall - i'm talking about legal cover for any aspects of web development / SEO or whatever.

we can do what we feel (or know) to be right, we can do our best, but will explicitly stating that we can't guarantee anything be enough to stop a disappointed client (who may have expected far too much) from employing a lawyer? the answer is no.

is *anyone* taking any legal protection of any kind?


 5:54 pm on Feb 4, 2002 (gmt 0)


No matter how good your legalese is, anyone can find reason to sue you. There are ALWAYS lawyers willing to take a case. The best thing, or should I say "at minimum," you should do is at least include some sort of damage limitation clause, something to the effect that it cannot exceed the cost of the design and does not allow for legal fees or punitive damages. The latter two are what are most expensive.


 5:59 pm on Feb 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

Yer just the web developer not their sales or market team. Its their job to push the site.....


 6:30 pm on Feb 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

No matter how good your legalese is, anyone can find reason to sue you

that is EXACTLY what i'm saying and EXACTLY why i'm asking if anyone has any LEGAL COVER as opposed to get out clauses in contracts. whether a client has a legal case or not, could you afford legal fees to defend yourself? i sure as hell couldnt.

so again, has anyone got any legal cover??


 6:46 pm on Feb 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

Um... Could you just add a paragraph to the contract saying your liability for the function, profitability or content of the site ends on the date the customer signs an acceptance statement for completion of the work?

Then, when you meet with the client and get final approval on the site, have them sign a statement saying they have examined the site to their satisfaction, and agree that it fulfills the agreed-upon parameters of the job. Once they sign it, you hand the site over to them, and you're clear of responsibility for it.

Of course, for something like that, you couldn't be handling the promotion or maintenance... Unless you had a separate maintenance agreement stating that the customer must review and sign an approval form on all updates and modifications before they will be applied to the site... and have your liability for each modification ends as of their signing of the approval form.

I'm sure a contract lawyer could cook something like that up for you.


 9:23 pm on Feb 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

Your contract should have a section that spells out how disputes will be resolved. Our contract states that any disputes will be handled first through mediation, and if that doesn't work, binding arbitration.

It also states that all disputes will be addressed in our county/state.

We also have some other sections that layout how a client must address any issue that they may feel constitute a breach of contract on our part. Things like making a formal written request, and allowing us time to make any necessary corrections.

Obviously, you can't ever make your self suit proff, but you can create a situation where it would be quite difficult for a client to slap you with a huge lawsuit out of the blue.


 4:48 am on Feb 8, 2002 (gmt 0)


I had a client that is similar to your problem last year.

1. Never promise anything you cannot complete.
2. Screen your client, check their background, and make sure they are a reputable business.
3. Get a good attorney, who can create a good contract that protects your interest.

This client tried to intimidate, threaten legal actions, and just intimidate our company. I did not even sweat, the contract the our firms attorney drafted protected us. Also, he was so unreasonable that any court would have thrown out the case.

Do you homework, make sure your client is legitimate, never promise anything you cannot complete, and get a good attorney.


 9:15 am on Feb 8, 2002 (gmt 0)

You can get business liability insurance for most risk. Speak to a commercial insurance broker. It is quite normal to get such cover and many professional service companies do this. You may get better prices if you have developed and approved procedures which govern how you do business.

I think the best defence is a professional approach to doing business with your clients. i.e. only make claims you can substantiate do not create expectations that will not be met. Always try to exceed your customers expectations. Resolve disputes that might arise as soon as possible.

It is a good idea to limit liability in your terms and conditions ... example below .. copyright is a section on its own because of the potential for litigation.

Hope this helps.

8. Limitations to liability
In the event of a dispute arising from either developer or client, the maximum amount of liability that either developer or client could be able to claim will be limited by the value of the contract pertaining to this agreement, maximum liability will be limited to the value of
the contract in the case of claims in either direction. Time period: After the contract is complete to the clients satisfaction and copyright has passed to the client, the client takes complete responsibility for the website.

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