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Website owners at risk without disclaimer

Australian website owners risk being sued for substantial damages if their websites do not include a disclaimer, says McCollough Robertson partner, David Downie.

The warning comes after a recent UK Court of Appeal case involving the online recommendation of a builder who later became insolvent. The case confirmed that website owners have a duty of care to their visitors and are liable if they are negligent.

Downie said the case, which is a first of its kind, may have opened the door for litigation in Australia if a user suffers damages as a result of reliance upon information provided on a website.

“Website owners could potentially be sued for millions of dollars if a user relied on information contained on their website which resulted in significant losses,” he said.

Downie said website owners can reduce the risk of a duty of care being assumed and avoid potential liability by displaying clear disclaimers on their websites which instruct visitors to seek further information before relying on what they read. He recommends the following:

  • State that you are not assuming a duty of care in connection with the website
  • Make it clear that users should not rely on the information being provided
  • Suggest that users should independently verify the information
  • State that you are not liable for loss or damage suffered by the user in connection with the website

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Jessica Stanic

Jessica Stanic

Jessica has a background in both marketing and journalism and is dedicated to making the website the leading online resource for small to medium businesses with ambitions to grow.

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