Close - up picture of a legal form on the signature area with a pen on the side


Legal fees continue to increase even over the last two years. This seems like the perfect reason to use free online legal forms. Or is it? An online legal boilerplate may not have the critical elements required in a contract. You'll also need to ensure the terms are clear and enforceable in court. 

It's said that "the best things in life are free." But ironically, free things often have a hidden cost. You may end up paying a higher price in the end. This can be the case with free online legal forms. Here are five reasons why:


1. Online Legal Forms May Have Errors

The online legal documents you use may have errors. This is more likely if the source is unknown or isn't versed in legal terms or requirements, especially the requirements in Ontario.

Some errors may be obvious. But others may only be obvious to someone with legal experience. You may miss these errors, such as the incorrect jurisdiction of law that governs the terms and conditions. Seems simple and insignificant, but it can make your agreement unenforceable.


2. You Might Be Guilty of Copyright Infringement

Chances are that most online forms aren't original. If they are, there will be numerous people using the same service. This will eventually result in duplication of the same document. Copying documents without the author's consent is equivalent to stealing their intellectual property. It's a breach of copyright laws. This can put you, your business, or both at risk.


3. All Businesses Aren't the Same

This fact makes it risky to use a generic form available to all businesses. The forms you use should be original and relevant to your company. Depending on the type of business, there may be specifically associated risks. A lawyer can guide you on what forms you'll require.


4. You May Limit Your Options

Online legal forms may not consider all the options available to you. An omission of an arbitration clause may result in litigation. An experienced lawyer will know this and ensure it's included to give you more options.


5. You Might Be Unprotected

Do you have a legal background? If not, you won't be certain if an online contract template covers all your rights. This can leave you unprotected and have far-reaching effects. The outcome may involve not only an appearance in a municipal or provincial court but maybe a federal one as well.


Paying the Price to Protect Your Interests

It's often hard to justify paying high legal fees for legal forms that seem readily available and accessible to you online. Legal forms, however, require in-depth expertise that is not always apparent to a non-legal mind.

Dismissing this fact can result in litigation. This can cost you more than the original document ever could have. It's not worth the time and hassle either. It's best to consult with an expert from the start.

Paquette Travers can help. We specialize in a range of legal services. Contact our law firm for a FREE quote today!



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