Is your website legal?

Sorry for the lack of posts recently.  I was in Spain last week (without the kids – yah!).

Even on holiday, I noticed a news item where the EU consumer commissioner complained that most websites do not comply with law.  This was not a big surprise to me!!

If you are selling stuff from your website then generally you have to comply with the fairly complex distance selling directives.  There is a good guide to the distance selling directives at the OFT website.  The main headline is that in the sales process you have to display certain information to the customer, and the customer has a right to reject the goods even if they are in perfectly good condition. 

Even if you don’t sell stuff online then there are still legal requirements for your website.  In particular there are requirements to provide certain information to the customer/browsers.  These requirements come from a number of different sources (most notably the e-commerce directive).

I usually advise clients to provide the information as part of a wider set of website terms and conditions of access (as opposed to terms and conditions of sale).  For an example, see the terms and conditions relating to the main Brodies website here, and the supplemental terms and conditions relating to this blog site here

As you will read one of the main jobs of the terms and conditions to disclaim liability.  This is particularly relevant given the recent case where a disgruntled purchaser of a swimming pool tried to sue the trade association that recommended the swimming pool installer on the basis of statement on a website. 

You should probably also add a privacy statement to the terms.  This sets out what you do with data collected using the site, and is a key plank in compliance with data protection law.

A final word of warning.  Don’t just copy somebody else’s terms and conditions and put them on your site.  Ignoring the copyright infringement problem, this is probably not going to give you the protection you need.  In particular don’t copy terms from a US website. 

If you want Brodies to review your website and report on legal compliance then give us a call.



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