Is your website legal?
Posted by Malcolm Iliff, on 19th July 2006
Since the beginning of 2007, based on a European Directive, websites - informational brochure sites as well as e-commerce sites - have to provide a minimum amount of information in order to comply with the law (under the Companies Act 2006).
The impact of the Act covers both websites and email communications. Breach of the Regulations can result in a fine on the Company and the Directors. The rules also apply to LLPs. In brief, it seems to us that the regulations require the following to appear on websites and emails:
- the company's full name, registered number, registered office and place of incorporation. A PO Box number is unlikely to suffice as a geographic address; but a registered office address would be in order;
- in the case of an investment company, the fact that it is such a company;
- in the case of a limited company exempt from the obligation to use the word "limited" in its name, the fact that it is a limited company must be stated.
Companies are now required to put on websites and emails what was previously only required on headed company notepaper and documents used for external communications. Even if you are not running a Company, under the UK's E-commerce regulations (The Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002) there is further information that ought to be provided. The view is that these regulations apply to virtually every commercial website:
- 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!
- any prices given on a website must be clear and unambiguous and state whether they are inclusive of tax and delivery costs.
Ask your legal advisor for detailed guidance or find more information elsewhere on the web.
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