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As more businesses shift their operations online, they can reach more customers and send their products across the world. Subsequently, more global businesses can reach New Zealand customers than ever before, which can be a successful market for your overseas business. However, if you want to sell your goods or services to New Zealand customers, then some of our laws will apply to you. Additionally, you will be creating contracts with New Zealand consumers, such as your terms and conditions and other website documents. It is important that you draft these correctly so that they apply to your New Zealand customers. Therefore, this article will explain whether your terms and conditions apply to New Zealand customers when you are based overseas.

What Are Terms and Conditions?

Your terms and conditions document is a contract that sets out the terms of your sales or agreements with your customers. A well-drafted terms and conditions document defines both your legal rights and obligations and your customers’ and what they agree to when they purchase your goods and services. If customers disagree with the clauses in your terms and conditions, they usually do not get a chance to negotiate changes due to the nature of the contract. Notably, your terms and conditions should include clauses that:

  • define your product information and specifications;
  • detail your payment terms and processes;
  • outline your delivery arrangements;
  • specify any warranties;
  • protect your intellectual property rights;
  • reference your privacy policy;
  • explain what happens in disputes;
  • specify contract cancellation terms; and
  • limit your liability.

If you operate from an online store, your terms and conditions need to reflect this. 

Terms and Conditions as a Contract

For a contract to be valid, you need to have the other party accept your contract terms clearly. In most contracts, you can indicate this with signature and the content of your communications with the other party. Note that part of this acceptance establishes that the other party also understands the nature of the contract.

However, given the nature of online terms and conditions, this acceptance can be difficult to establish. You likely will not meet or communicate personally with your online New Zealand customers. Additionally, you may not have the chance for them to submit their signatures as a part of their online purchases. Principally, you design your terms and conditions to be a standard document that applies to all of your sales, so your terms and conditions may not yet be adapted to New Zealand law.

Accepting Your Terms and Conditions

Furthermore, terms and conditions can be long, and you do not have a guarantee that your customers will read through them. Therefore, when gauging a customer’s acceptance, you have to implement reasonable efforts to make it easier for them to be aware of your terms and conditions and clearly accept them. These include:

  • making your terms and conditions easy to understand;
  • breaking up your document with clear bullet points and subheadings;
  • getting customers as part of the purchasing process to scroll through a pop-up box with your terms and conditions; and
  • requiring customers to tick a box saying “I accept these terms and conditions” when completing a purchase.

Including a tickbox makes your terms and conditions a ‘click-wrap’ agreement, which often makes it easier to establish a customer’s acceptance of your contract terms. This way, you can better protect your business from legal liability.

Applicability in New Zealand

For your terms and conditions to apply to your sales in New Zealand, it will depend on whether you have:

  • included the acceptance steps listed above;
  • drafted an easily understandable and applicable document;
  • adapted your clauses to apply in New Zealand; or
  • clearly specified what country’s laws apply to your sales.

If you use a generic document that you have not adapted to the various countries that your business sells in, then you may not be able to enforce your terms and conditions in these countries. 

For example, your dispute resolution clause may cause issues if you have not drafted it correctly because it directly relates to what laws will apply in the event of a contractual dispute.

In your terms and conditions, you should clearly specify what country’s laws apply to the terms of your contract. Some of our laws will also apply to your business operations in New Zealand, so you need to make sure you cater to those laws. These can include:

For instance, when you deal with New Zealanders’ personal information for your business, such as their credit card details, you likely will need to comply with the Privacy Act and its regulations. This rule can apply even if you do not have a physical presence in New Zealand.

Therefore, when drafting your terms and conditions for doing business with New Zealand customers, you should seek legal advice from an experienced New Zealand lawyer.

Key Takeaways

If you have drafted your terms and conditions document efficiently and in line with New Zealand regulations, then you should be able to enforce them with New Zealand customers. However, this will depend on what actions you have taken and the context of the scenario. If you would like more information or help with doing business with New Zealand customers from overseas, contact LegalVision’s eCommerce lawyers on 0800 005 570 or fill out the form on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are terms and conditions?

Terms and conditions are a legal document that sets out the contractual terms of any sale you enter into with a customer for your goods or services. It defines the general terms of your sales relationship and contains important clauses for protecting your business.

What is personal information?

In New Zealand, personal information is any information about an identifiable individual. If you can use this information to identify a living person, then it qualifies. Examples include names or credit card details.

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