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I was wondering how binding my websites Terms and Conditions are.

I specify a few things there, including a return policy and terms of use.

I am in California. I'm starting to sell to the U.S. and then Canada, and then the whole EU.

  • Can you clarify your question? Changing it from your terms of service, to terms of service in general might help. Which jurisdiction are you interested in? – Jason Aller Aug 3 '15 at 0:36
  • @JasonAller jurisdiction for an online web store is largely irrelevant - he must comply with the laws of every jurisdiction he sells to. – Dale M Aug 3 '15 at 0:41
  • How enforceable the terms are could vary based on jurisdiction, and some terms make explicit that they are intended to be enforced using the laws of a particular locality. – Jason Aller Aug 3 '15 at 0:43
  • I am in California. I'm starting to sell to the U.S. and then Canada, and then the Whole EU. – Eric ERK Aug 3 '15 at 0:45
  • @cpast A purported contract that doesn't comply with the laws of a relevant jurisdiction is not a contract and may expose the person holding it out to be a contract to civil and criminal sanctions. In general, the only reasonably relevant jurisdictions are those of the seller and the buyer; both would normally be applicable. – Dale M Aug 3 '15 at 1:14
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Your terms and conditions must comply with the laws in:

  • Your jurisdiction (California)
  • Your customer's jurisdiction (each of the US states, Canadian provinces and ultimately countries and sub-jurisdictions in Europe)

If they do they will generally be enforceable; if they don't then they will not be enforceable and you may be exposing yourself to civil and criminal sanctions. While not immediately relevant to you, Australian Consumer Law has such sanctions to goods sold into Australia from anywhere in the world; I am not familiar with other jurisdictions.

With respect to your comment that you will not accept returns or refunds, this would expose you to potential fines in Australia of $220,000 for an individual or $1,100,000 for a corporation - under Australian Consumer Law returns and refunds are a consumer right. I strongly suspect that most of the jurisdictions you are selling into would take a similar position.

A general "catch-all" like "to the extent permitted by law" may reduce the risk of being prosecuted but it would not eliminate it entirely. Again, in Australia, the provision is that you must not engage in deceptive and misleading conduct - merely suggesting that you will not give a refund even with the limitation above - may still be deemed "deceptive and misleading" if the court feels that a reasonable consumer might assume that they are not entitled to a refund.

You need professional legal advice on this.

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    This is probably why people say "except where required by law" on no refund stuff. – cpast Aug 3 '15 at 1:28
  • @cpast exactly, but it may be ineffective - see my edit. – Dale M Aug 3 '15 at 1:37
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    Also, could you cite the Australia thing? It can be found, but the answer would be better with the link included. – cpast Aug 3 '15 at 1:39

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