Do you know how to make sure your website is legal? We see lots of examples of some if not all of these legal requirements being broken on company websites ranging from small sole traders to large multinational organisations.  Here is a quick check list you can use to make sure your site is on the right side of the law.

1. Company Information

It is common sense to suggest that all business websites, including sole-traders should display some basic information in order to show that they are legitimate.  This should include at the very least an email address and postal address so that people can contact you.  We have, however come across some websites who have no contact details at all and the only way to get in touch is an online form.  This doesn’t make the company look very trustworthy.

If you are a Limited company there is a legal requirement to include your registered company address, place of registration and company number on your website.  If you are VAT registered you must also display your VAT registration number.

2. Disability Discrimination

Your site should be accessible to disabled people and as a minimum must comply with the W3C priority one standard.   This includes providing meaningful text descriptions of images and links so that visually impaired people can use a screen reader to describe elements on your site.  You should also use the clearest and simplest language appropriate for a site’s content.

3. Cookies

Many websites now have relatively unobtrusive cookie pop-ups or statements and we are used to seeing these sort of things on websites.  However there are still a lot out there that don’t comply with the basic ICO guidelines.  If you collect information about your users in any form (including Google Analytics or a similar system) you should let them know.

4. Privacy Policy

Closely linked but perhaps more important than the legislation over cookies is that of Data Privacy.  This has become a significant topic this year with the introduction of new EU legislation in the form of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR).  The simplest explanation of this is that if you are collection and using personal data you must make your purpose and intention clear to your data subjects.  A privacy policy also shows your customers and website audience that you care about them and the security of their information.

5. Ecommerce Requirements

If you are selling products or services directly through your website there are a few more legal requirements you should bear in mind.

Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations sets out clear lists of information that should be displayed to the customer before and after a sale takes place.  This includes details about consumer rights, contracts, delivery arrangements and charges guarantees and returns policies.  This regulation applies to all distance selling including catalogues and telephone sales.

When you are selling online there are additional requirements in the form of the Electronic Commerce Regulations (EC Directive).  This includes making sure the steps to placing an order are clear and providing ways to customers to correct mistakes in their order.




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