According to internetworldstats.com, at the end of 2009 there are an estimated 1.8 billion internet users worldwide, with about 260 million internet users in North America. Grab A Copy Click here On those numbers alone, if you are doing business on the internet your chances of being sued are better than winning the lottery. It's not easy trying to make sure everything is covered when you're starting a new venture, whether that is a business or a new website for your business. Some people are prepared to take a risk and hope they don't get caught out. Nine out of ten websites might even get away with it, but trust Murphy's Law to make that tenth person YOU. Hi, my name is Jeanette Jifkins and I've been practicing law for quite some time now, working with different sized businesses. Initially I helped businesses with their dispute resolution and over the last few years the focus has been on getting commercial arrangements set up properly. In working with people who want to either do business or expand their business online it has become clear that sorting out the legal aspects is of a website is either too hard or an oversight. There simply aren't many lawyers out there who understand what it means for small businesses to do business online. You might think that doing business online is more hidden than doing business in the high street. Wrong! Grab A Copy Click here MYTH #1 - No one's going to know if you do something wrong in your online business. The internet is just too big. FACT - The old adage of a customer telling 10 people if they are unhappy with your service has expanded exponentially, and so has the impact. It is easier now for a customer or competitor to complain to a regulator than it has ever been, and there are heaps more options. Unhappy people can complain to your website host, local and international regulators and post negative comments in consumer forums. MYTH #2 - Your customers are mostly in another country, so there is nothing they can really do if you get it wrong. FACT - You are potentially liable in every country where you have customers. Unless you have the right notices in your terms and conditions it is your business at risk. And just think, if most of your customers are there, you don't want your business to get shut down in that country! MYTH #3 - You have a proxy address and contact details, so no one can really find you anyway. FACT - Unless you have a really really sophisticated set up, you can be found. Not only that, but internationally government and non-government regulators have got together and entered agreements about information sharing and joint prosecution to make sure that you can't get away with illegal operations. Why would you put your business at risk when it is so easy to get the basic legal requirements right? Doing business on the internet is not all that different from running a store. It's still a business and you have responsibilities to your customers. Only now, your store is open 24 hours a day to customers all over the world.
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