Online sellers cover all of the legal aspects of the sale in the general terms and conditions. Once approved by the customer, this document becomes an integral part of the sales contract.
In Switzerland, the rules governing the sale of goods and services may be modified by means of the contract and the contractual terms and conditions. In general, traders put all of the terms and conditions of sale together in a document called the “general terms and conditions”. This is a form of legal protection. To better understand the trader’s legal obligations, see the relevant section:
Swiss and European laws on e-commerce
To be valid, general terms and conditions must be approved by both parties. They must be clearly made available to the customer before placing their order. The online store can, for example, include a box to be checked during the ordering process which says, “I have read and accept the general terms and conditions”. Generally, the more visible the customer’s approval during purchase, the more likely the court will take the side of the seller in the event of litigation and find that the general terms and conditions were indeed seen and accepted by the customer at the time of purchase. Since terms and conditions may be regularly updated, a full copy of each contract needs to be kept.
Content of general terms and conditions
To avoid an interpretation of the general terms and conditions unfavorable to the trader, it is strongly recommended that such terms and conditions are drawn up with the help of a specialized lawyer.
To draw up general terms and conditions, every stage of the sale must be considered. Here are some points to take into account:
- Warranty. Warranty conditions that apply to the goods and services sold at the time of the transaction.
- Data protection. Use of data collected, encryption techniques, etc.
- Orders. Invoicing and payment terms and conditions, VAT, etc.
- Delivery. Deliverable zones, delivery times, etc.
- Responsibilities. For example, responsibilities in the case of any alteration of goods on dispatch.
- Returns. Returns or exchange policy.
- Applicable law and jurisdiction. Applicable law and court with jurisdiction in the event of litigation (reference to Swiss law).
In the general terms and conditions, improper or inappropriate statements are in breach of the law. Clauses comprising more risks for the consumer must be clearly highlighted.