Many businesses get a web site built, or do it themselves, but they are not aware that there are many items that they are legally required to include. Failure to comply with these requirements puts a company at risk of a fine of £1,000.
The following is the minimum information that must be on any company’s website (taken from OUT-LAW’s guide, The UK’s E-commerce Regulations).
- The name, geographic address and email address of the service provider.
- The name of the organisation with which the customer is contracting must be given. This might differ from the trading name. Any such difference should be explained – e.g. “XYZ.com is the trading name of XYZ Enterprises Limited.”
- It is not sufficient to include a ‘contact us’ form without also providing an email address and geographic address somewhere easily accessible on the site. 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.
- If a company, the company’s registration number should be given and, under the Companies Act, the place of registration should be stated (e.g. “XYZ Enterprises Limited is a company registered in England and Wales with company number 1234567”).
- 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.
The Distance Selling Regulations contain other information requirements for online businesses that sell to consumers (B2C, as opposed to B2B, sales).