Is Your Website Legal?

Dec 08, 2015

Ever wondered if your website is legal? It’s not a common thought when setting up your website. With the explosion of e-commerce over the past five years, and the ever increasing focus on customers and their rights, it is inevitable that traders online will need to be increasingly more vigilant in ensuring they are complying with legislation. A few points below are good starting points to assess your website:

1.   Companies (Trading Disclosures) Regulations 2008. Do you display who you are on your website? 

You should include your name, trading name, registered company number and registered VAT number (if applicable), registered address, contact details, if you are governed by any trade association and any membership number on your website. Without this, you can face a criminal offence and a substantial fine. 

2.   Are you compliant with Data Protection Act 1998? 

What are you doing with any information you collect? As a matter of good practice, implement a Privacy Policy on your website so your customers know exactly what you are doing with their information. This helps you be compliant with your duties under the Act. 

3.   Consider whether your website is as accessible to all users. 

Consider ways in which you can enhance the experience for users who may need special adaptions, such as larger text options. There are useful tools out there such as Accessibility Tools to work out what changes you can make to make your website accessible for all users, especially those who may have a disability. 

Failure to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ could be unlawful disability discrimination under the Equality Act 2010. 

4.   If you are a non-trading website: 

Make sure you advertise your terms and conditions on your website and make it easily accessible for a customer to find them. This helps not only helps increase any argument that your terms are incorporated into any contract you make with a visitor but also gives the customer notice of what terms you trade on when visiting your website. 

5.   Trading website: Are you compliant with the E-commerce Regulations 2002? 

E-commerce Regulations govern how some online contracts should be made. You need to make sure you clearly display the price and description of the goods, as well as when delivery will take place, method of payment and provide confirmation details to your customer of their order. You will need to ensure you send a confirmation email amongst other things. If in doubt in the procedures you have in place, ensure you take advice.

6.   Do you let your visitors know you track their cookies? 

Does your website use cookies? If so, assess what cookies they are and how intrusive they are. You need to let your visitor know you are using cookies when they visit the site straight away. You can ask for your visitors consent, or it can be implied. The correct option will depend on your website and the types of cookies you use. However you must make clear steps to obtain that consent. 

Nicola Lucas

About the author

Nicola Lucas

Nicola is a member of our Business Law Team handling all the commercial requirements of her clients such as shareholder agreements and negotiating on commercial ...

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