Website Hosting Contracts

We asked Adlex to produce new hosting T&Cs for our company. Adam was friendly, helpful and polite. The speed, quality and turnaround of the documents was top notch. The service we received was second to none and I'd definitely recommend Adlex to anybody in need of terms and conditions for their web hosting company.

Jeffrey Mattingley, Managing Director, JustHostMe Limited

JustHostMe Limited

Here are some FAQs:

What are website hosting contracts?

A website hosting contract is a legal agreement which regulates the relationship between a customer and the supplier of a hosting service  - whether on the host's dedicated / shared servers or under a co-location contract where the host stores the customer's server). Amongst many other things, hosts will keen to use website hosting agreements to restrict their liability to customers if something goes wrong and to ensure they can deal properly with third party complaints about hosted content which is infringing or illegal.

Do resellers need web hosting contracts?

In our experience, resellers of hosting services can be unaware of the importance of web hosting contracts. Sometimes resellers think that they are in some way protected by their contracts with the ultimate host. Whereas the customer is not a party to, and so not bound by, the web hosting agreement between the reseller and ultimate host. If there is a problem, the customer will take action against the reseller and the reseller must then look to the ultimate host, if possible. It is critical, not only that the reseller has its own website hosting terms and conditions but that these do not promise more than reseller gets under its own web host contract with the ultimate host.

What are the legal issues relating to a website hosting SLA?

An SLA or "service level agreement" may be an important component of a host's offering.  This is the part of the website hosting contract where a host offers a minimum, measurable level of service. The kinds of metrics that can be specified in a website hosting SLA include the percentage availability of the service, the host's response times for particular kinds of faults and so on.

From a legal standpoint, it is important that the website hosting SLA defines very clearly what is on offer. For example, the tem "availability" is often used too loosely in SLAs. Does this include downtime caused when the host carries out planned maintenance? Is a service "available" if it is functioning slowly but still useable. What if the outage is actually caused by a third party network outside the host's control?

If web hosts are offering SLAs, they will often be keen to restrict liability for any breach of the SLA to defined service credits.

Are website hosts liable for defamatory or infringing material which they host?

Generally speaking – yes. Unless they act quickly to remove infringing material once they become aware of it.  (For further information, see liability of hosts for internet defamation. For hosts, therefore, it is important that they maintain a suitable acceptable use policy and that the web hosting terms and conditions enable them to remove defamatory or other problematic content as soon as they receive a complaint.

What about the Data Protection Act?

The Data Protection Act has an important impact on web hosting agreements. Usually, the customer is the "data controller" and the host is the "data processor" in relation to "personal data" (ie information which identifies individuals or enables them to be identified) stored by the host. The Data Protection Act imposes certain requirements concerning security of personal data which must be included in a contract between a data controller and data processor – such as a web hosting agreement.

What is a co-location contract?

Co-location is a form of hosting where the customer rather than the host owns the server, which is located in the host's premises. Co-location agreements therefore differ in some respects from other web hosting agreements in that, amongst other things, they need to address the customer's physical access to the server. Often there are SLAs covering issues such as security of the premises, electricity supply, air conditioning, connectivity and so on.

How Adlex Solicitors can help with your website hosting contracts and co-location agreements ...

... for a free initial chat and more information, contact website lawyer Adam Taylor on +44 (0) 207 317 8404 or email.

Or email us your telephone number to request a callback