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When talking to business owners about their website, it is often asked what information does a website need to publish and are there any legal requirements. Many business and ecommerce websites don’t meet UK legal requirements when publishing information online; this can be as simple as displaying a contact email address.

When a business is providing an online service, such as a public website, it must publish an email address, not just a general contact form. In many cases this is one of the most frustrating requirements, as it’s well known that any published email address will become a magnet for spam.

Any business providing an online service (a website is a service), whether involved in ecommerce or not, should provide the following information which must be easily and permanently accessible by website visitors as stated by the Ecommerce Regulations 2002.

  • The name of who’s providing the service; so this must be the full limited company name and not just a trading name.
  • A valid email address for general contact and enquires; a contact form alone is not sufficient.
  • The business trading address, and in the case of limited companies, the registered office address; this must also be a geographic location as a PO Box address is not sufficient.
  • In the case of a limited company, the company’s registration number and the place of registration. e.g. Company Registered in England and Wales. This is a requirement of the Companies Act as from 31st December 2006, not the Ecommerce Directive.
  • Membership details if the business is a member of any trade or professional association, including any registration numbers.
  • If the business is VAT registered, the VAT number should be published, even if the website is not being used for ecommerce transactions.
  • Any prices published must be clear, unambiguous and state weather prices are inclusive or exclusive of VAT.
  • Any delivery costs that may apply.

Finally, do not forget the Distance Selling Regulations which contain other information requirements for online businesses that sell to consumers (B2C, as opposed to B2B, sales). For details of these requirements, see the article, The Distance Selling Regulations – An Overview.

This article is a simple guide to setting up a business website. Many laws may apply depending upon the location of your consumers, as different rules apply when selling to different parts of the world. For more information, read more about The UK’s Ecommerce Regulations or visit the business link article Ecommerce and the law. If you are ever in any doubt, always seek legal advice from a qualified professional.

Categories: Articles, E-Commerce

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