Legal Requirements for Business Websites in the UK
Below, I have set out the main legal requirements (including some optional recommendations) that you should comply with when operating a website in the UK. Even if you do not sell products or services online via your website, you will still need to comply with the following English laws when operating a website in the UK.
About Us/Contact Information
You must provide the following information in an easily accessible position on your website:
- your legal name i.e. XYZ Ltd
- your geographical address
- contact details i.e. telephone number, fax number and email address
- which country your business is registered in and the registration number
- details of any supervisory body which regulates your business i.e. the FSA. For regulated bodies more detailed information is required.
- where you are registered for VAT and your VAT number
- clear details of prices and whether or not delivery and/or tax is included
Registration under the Data Protection Act
If you collect any personal data on your website – i.e. email address, name or address of a living individual, you will be processing personal data and must register as a data controller under the Data Protection Act (DPA). As a supplier the DPA will apply as soon as you require users to register in order to access your website or receive a newsletter or marketing information from you.
If you are collecting personal data it is a criminal offence not to register as a data controller under the Data Protection Act (DPA).
If you are collecting, storing or processing personal data you need to inform customers or website users how, what and why you are using their personal data in order to comply with the DPA.
Disabled Access to your Web Site
If you offer goods or services on your website you need to make your website accessible to disabled users. Level 1 compliance with the WC3 standard will usually suffice.
Trademarks and Logos
Do not use other people’s trademarks or logos without their consent on your website or you could be liable to pay damages for trademark infringements.
If you accept online payment for your goods or services you must provide customers with specific information about their right to cancel, VAT and prices, refunds and defective goods PRIOR to the sale being concluded.
In addition to the above mandatory rules it is advisable to include the following information on your website.
You should set out the rules applicable to visitors using and accessing the goods and services on your website. For example, state who may access the website i.e. consumers, businesses, over 18s. You should also aim to limit your liability for information on your website. For example, state which law applies and your limits on liability. However, please note that you cannot exclude or limit certain liabilities in particular circumstances – particularly in relation to consumers, injuries caused by goods and services, or defects in your goods and services.
Protect the information on your website by inserting a copyright notice “© company name 2013. All rights reserved.” Without this notice, it may be difficult in some countries to take legal action against any copyright infringement.
The above are examples of the main legal requirements for UK websites. This is a very complicated area of law and the specific rules that apply to you will depend on what goods and services you are offering, whether you are acting BTB (business to business) or BTC (business to customer), where you are based, where your customers are located and many other factors.
image courtesy of Sam Howzit