1

I'm a programmer making a messaging service. And although I can get the software parts sorted out easily, I'm not really sure about the legal bits.

In particular, I'm not sure whether my Terms of Service (ToS) have to be written by a professional lawyer. Of course, I do understand that such a document written by a person knowledgeable in their field is certainly going to be better than anything I'm capable of writing at the moment, but is this absolutely required to be considered a valid document in most jurisdictions, most notably, the European Union?

5

is this absolutely required to be considered a valid document in most jurisdictions, most notably, the European Union?

Not at all. There is no legal requirement that contracts, terms of service, and so forth be drafted, devised, or even validated by a lawyer.

Law requires that certain types of contract be notarized. That refers to the moment where the parties sign/formalize the contract, which is different from --and independent of-- whether its terms were written by a lawyer. A messaging service like the one you have in mind definitely is not subject to such requirement either.

3

It’s impossible to say

There are several hundred (at least) jurisdictions in the world. There are 28 nations in the EU (shortly to be 27) and many of them have sub-national jurisdictions (the UK has 3).

Most of these have restrictions on the “practice of law” and each of those defines “practicing law” differently. In some (e.g. ) the drafting of contracts is not practicing law, in others (e.g. ) it is.

Further, there may be some classes of contract (e.g. for sale of real estate) that must be drafted by a lawyer and others where it’s not necessary.

Also, what consequences flow from an ‘illegally drafted’ contract will vary. It might be that the contract is still valid even though it exposes the drafter to sanctions, or it might make the contract void. Or voidable.

In most jurisdictions, you can always represent yourself in legal matters, however, a contract always involves someone who is not you.

If you want to ask a specific question (e.g. “Does a contract for [this] in [that] jurisdiction need to be drafted by a lawyer?) then an answer can be found. However, for the general question, the answer is: maybe.

  • Where is a "illegally drafted" contract void or voidable? This is normaly not even known to your partner. – K-HB Nov 24 '20 at 22:41
  • @K-HB I don't understand your comment – Dale M Nov 25 '20 at 4:27
  • Sorry. Your wrote "Also, what consequences flow from an ‘illegally drafted’ contract will vary. [...] or it might make the contract void. Or voidable." I know of no jurisdiction where this is the case and it seems pretty unnatural to my (German biased) gut feeling. Can you give an example jurisdiction? – K-HB Nov 25 '20 at 6:52
-3

Yes

For evidence, I quote thee:

I'm not really sure about the legal bits.

If you're not sure about the legal bits then you shouldn't be writing a legal document.

  • 2
    The OP is aware of the supposed benefit of hiring a lawyer, but the OP is concretely asking whether lawyer's involvement/authorship of the ToS is required by law. And the answer is no. – Iñaki Viggers Nov 24 '20 at 19:50
  • Yes, that was indeed the question, @IñakiViggers. Regardless, thank you both. – portasynthinca3 Nov 24 '20 at 19:53

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