Adapting Your Website Terms and Conditions for COVID-19 Level 3 and Beyond

30 April, 2020 | Bret Gower

Adapting to business life after the COVID-19 alert level 4 restrictions is going to mean being agile and getting used to changing things as you go along.

You might be now operating in an online world where you have never operated, delivering goods and services remotely when previously they have always been an in-person supply. If that’s the case, you will definitely need website terms of use to establish your business’ expectations and set out the ground rules for customers.

If your business is now able to open subject to certain restrictions, such as online ordering or contactless transactions, that you haven’t previously offered, then you probably need to look at updating your website terms and conditions.

You will need to set out, for example:

  • your obligations to your customers, and their obligations to you;
  • how and when payment is to be made;
  • what will amount to ‘delivery’ in the new circumstances (are you using a new delivery method, maybe via courier or using your own delivery team);
  • Supply and delivery time frames might need clarifying, even if that means adapting them to build in more flexibility to allow for any uncertainty you have from your own suppliers;
  • explain how you calculate your pricing;
  • enforce payment of any outstanding money;
  • provide a mechanism for dealing with unusual circumstances outside your control – such as pandemics and natural disasters;
  • retain ownership of goods you are selling to your customers until you have been paid;
  • clarify how and when risk in the title to goods you are selling transfers from you to your customers;
  • ensure your business complies with the current legal and regulatory requirements;
  • provide a mechanism for resolving disputes if and when they arise.

Given the uncertainty about what will happen during the next stages of the ‘new normal’ you will also need to ensure you have the right to update the terms and conditions when the need arises.

You also need to be absolutely certain your terms are enforceable under New Zealand law, including under the Fair Trading Act and the Contract and Commercial Law Act – see our related article here.

Our commercial team is experienced with drafting and updating website terms and conditions (sometime called “terms of use”) across a wide range of industry types and business models. In the first instance contact commercial solicitor Bret Gower on 09 837 6893 or email

Fees to review and/or draft online terms and conditions tailored to your requirements range between $1,600 to $2,000 and generally take between 5 to 10 working days to first draft stage depending on the actual work involved and a range of other factors.*


Do you need assistance with your website terms and conditions?

Contact our Commercial Law expert, Bret Gower today.

email Bret
09 837 6893

About the author

Bret is a key member of the commercial team at Smith and Partners, having joined the firm after a successful career as a design agency owner. Bret’s clients have confidence in him because of his unique combination of down-to-earth communication
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