Legal Requirements For A Website Including ecommerce Websites

All UK websites must contain key information to meet UK legislation. Here is a basic outline of key points but be sure to check each act and directive in full and seek legal consul for more advice.

Legal Requirements For All UK Websites

  • For a Limited company  you must display clearly the business name, place of registration, registered number and the registered office address.
  • If you collect any information at all including web stats and analytics you must include a Privacy  & Cookie Policy needs to explain what cookies the website will create and what they are for and a link to this policy must be CLEARLY VISIBLE. For ‘implied consent’ you need to be satisfied that your users understand that their actions will result in cookies being set. You should not rely on the fact that users might have read a privacy policy that is perhaps hard to find or difficult to understand. See The EU cookie law (e-Privacy Directive)
  • If you collect visitors contact information i.e names and contact details you must abide by the Data Protection Act 1998. The Data Protection Act requires every data controller (eg organisation, sole trader) who is processing personal information to Register with the ICO (Information Commissioners Office) At time of writing the fee for your registration is £35 for this year.
  • All emails must contain all manditory information. That is your company’s registered name,  registration number, place of registration and you registered office address.
  • All text should be original. It is illegal to copy a substantial part of text from someone else’s web page without their permission.  To do so would infringe the copyright and/or moral rights in that material, even if you have acknowledged their authorship and the material itself is freely available on the web.
  • Images should be your own, licensed or copyright free, if you don’t have your OWN images we adivse getting some from licensed stock image websites. From the moment a photo or other image is taken or created it is automatically protected by copyright under Intellectual Property Rights. Using others images may result in being fined or sued.

Legal Requirements For ecommerce Websites

There are three major UK acts and directives that an ecommerce website must comply with

  • Data Protection Act 1998
  • Distance Selling Act 2000
  • Ecommerce Directive 2002

Here is a basic outline but be sure to check each act and directive in full and seek legal consul for more advice.

Data Protection Act 1998

  • If you collect visitors contact information i.e names and contact details you must abide by the Data Protection Act 1998. The Data Protection Act requires every data controller (eg organisation, sole trader) who is processing personal information to Register with the ICO (Information Commissioners Office) At time of writing the fee for your registration is £35 for this year.
  • Your Terms & Conditions and/or Privacy Policy must state clearly what you will do with the contact information you have collected.
  • You must ensure that all information is held securely and must be revealed or deleted upon request from the subjects of the information.

Refer to The Data Protection Act 1998 for full information
Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000

The Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000 applies to the majority of ecommerce sites. There are exceptions for ‘business-to-business’ only websites.

  • You must provide clear information about your products and services before purchase.
  • Postage and packing costs must be clearly displayed
  • Ensure VAT or any other tax is included in the prices and are clearly displayed
  • You must send a confirmation email to the buyer upon receipt  of the order.
  • Cleary show that the customer has the right to cancel or return the order within 7 working days.  There are exclusions including perishable and digital goods.
  • Show that customers of their right to cancel their order with no loss other than return postage and packing.

For more information see: The Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000
The Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002

  • You must show the name of your business, the company registration number (or proprietor’s name), address (not a PO Box number), contact information e.g., telephone number and email address, VAT registration number (if registered).
  • Postage and packing costs must be clearly displayed including delivery information
  • Ensure VAT or any other tax is included in the prices and are clearly displayed
  • Your Terms and Conditions must be clearly shown
  • You must send a confirmation email to the buyer upon receipt  of the order.
  • All emails must contain all manditory information. That is your company’s registered name,  registration number, place of registration and you registered office address
  • All promotional offers must clearly show all conditions and terms of these offers
  • If you send unsolicited emails, you must clearly identify them as unsolicited.

For more information see: The Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002
Information Commissioner’s Office e-privacy directive (ICO Cookie Law)

  • Privacy & Cookie Policy needs to explain what cookies the website will create and what they are for and a link to this policy must be CLEARLY VISIBLE.
  • For ‘implied consent’ you need to be satisfied that your users understand that their actions will result in cookies being set. You should not rely on the fact that users might have read a privacy policy that is perhaps hard to find or difficult to understand.

For more information see: Information Commissioner’s Office e-privacy directive.

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