This is a question I am often asked when advising businesses in relation to their website’s legal requirements. When the use of the internet for trading became a reality, the governments of the EU member states got together to decide on minimum levels of protection for customers. The information requirements that apply to the operators of websites from the UK, are based on EU regulations and designed to give customers reassurance that they will be able to enforce their legal rights against a seller of goods or services, when trading is carried out online.
Clearly not all websites facilitate online trading. If your site presents a “brochure” to the world, it will not be required to provide as much, or the same type of information, as a website that can deprive a customer of his hard earned cash. If you sell online to consumers, there are other regulations dealing with consumer specific trading (as opposed to trading business to business ,“B2B”) designed to give the consumer more protection. This is because a consumer is thought to be more easily “duped” when he is buying goods or services from someone he hasn’t met, and in the comfort of his own home.
If you operate a website from the UK, you are required to provide the following information:
Reasoning for Providing Information
|Name of website operator||Your customer needs to know the legal identity of who he is dealing with in case he needs to sue
|Geographical address of website operator||Provides comfort that the operator exists, and allows the Customer to check the operator’s physical presence or send correspondence or return goods there
|Communication details of website operator including an email address or email template||To enable Customer to communicate quickly and directly with the operator.
|If website operator is a Company, its company registration number||To identify the correct legal entity
|If website operator is subject to VAT, its VAT number||To enable the customer to be sure it is obliged to pay VAT
|If the website operator is required to be authorised, details of its authorisation||For example, certain financial institutions are required to be authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority.
If you operate your website as a company, the following additional information must be included on all website pages. Usually this will be in a “footer” section so that it appears on every page:
- Company’s registered name and number
- Which part of the UK the company is registered in
- The Company’s registered address
- If a company has limited liability but doesn’t have the word “Limited” in its name, the fact that it has limited liability must be stated
- If a company is a community interest company and is not a public company, this fact must be stated
- If the company is an investment company, this fact must be stated
If you are a member of a regulated profession (such as a doctor, physiotherapist, dentist, accountant or solicitor), then you must state that you are so regulated and additional information must be provided.
If your business website is more than a brochure site, then the additional information requirements will vary depending on:
- Whether you provide goods or services?
- If contracts be concluded online?
- If you are an online retailer?
- Whether or not you deal with businesses (B2B) or consumers?
Thursfields would be happy to discuss your website with you and advise you on the particular requirements that will affect your business to ensure that you comply with your online statutory requirements. Please contact either Jane Rudge on 0121 227 3885 or Stuart Price on 0121 227 3867.