The Legal Requirements of Your Website

The essential information you need to ensure your website’s compliant

The legal stuff is not the most glamorous part of owning a website, but it is essential to show your credentials as a business as well as protecting you and your customers. Certain key pieces of information are required to be present in order to be compliant. The list of legal requirements isn’t long, but it’s important to know what information is needed on your website.

 

I’m not a registered company

If you are not a registered Ltd company you should try to comply with the guidelines for minimum information to be provided as follows:

  • The name of the service provider must be given somewhere easily accessible on the site. This might differ from the trading name and any such difference should be explained – e.g. “XYZ.com is the trading name of XYZ Enterprises Limited.”
  • The email address of the service provider must be given. It is not sufficient to include a ‘contact us’ form without also providing an email address.
  • The geographic address of the service provider must be given. A PO Box is unlikely to suffice as a geographic address; but a registered office address would. If the business is a company, the registered office address must be included in any event.
  • If the business is a member of a trade or professional association, membership details, including any registration number, should be provided.
  • If the business has a VAT number, it should be stated – even if the website is not being used for e-commerce transactions.
  • Prices on the website must be clear and unambiguous. Also, state whether prices are inclusive of tax and delivery costs.If the service provider is a company, the Companies Act 2006 requires that the place of registration should be stated (e.g. “XYZ Enterprises Limited is a company registered in England and Wales with company number 1234567″).

It is best practise to include all of the above information. If you are an e-commerce website you are required to provide all of the information above especially the VAT number and pricing being clear and unambiguous. You are classed as an e-commerce site if you:

  • Advertise goods or services online
  • Sell goods or services to anyone online
  • Store electronic content or provide access to a communication network

 

I’m a registered company

Every registered company that has a website is required by law to include certain key pieces of information. No matter what trade you are in, you need to have the following information on your website:

  • Your registered company name
  • Your company registration number
  • The place of registration (usually written as a country or city)
  • The office address the company is registered to

It’s simply the basic registration information about your company that you receive when you register. This information is already required on any business letters you send out, so should be easy enough to add onto your website. Although an email address is not legally required, it is best practise to have it available for easy communication.

Experian present this information at the bottom of all their webpages.

experian

 

Where should I put this information?

Don’t worry; it doesn’t need to be on EVERY page. Your website may already have this information on your ‘About Us’ or ‘Contact Us’ pages, in your Terms and Conditions or in your Privacy Policy. If you only have one page, you can put it at the bottom in one readable chunk. Keep a checklist handy to tick off the information you have included, and the bits you need to find and add on.

As long as the required information is present on your site, is easy to find, legible, and clearly linked to, your website is compliant.

Whenever you send any written business communication, this information should also appear on it. It’s now becoming necessary to have it on electronic communications, as well as physical letters. Add it onto everything you send from your business to follow best practise. This saves any confusion as to whether your communications are personal or business.

Below is an example of an email footer received from Harlands Services informing a customer of a new direct debit set up:

harlands

 

Click on the following links for further detailed information on the Company Act 2006(the 2008 updates) and the E-commerce Regulations 2002.

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