Commercial Know-How: Your Business Website

In the first of two features on websites, we give a run-down on the key information most business websites should include.

Business Information - Under UK law, website providers are obliged to provide certain information to their visitors. The most basic requirement is that you disclose your name, address and contact details. The visitor should be able to contact you quickly and directly, normally meaning via e-mail, telephone or a physical address.

If your business is regulated, or your services are subject to an authorisation scheme, you must also give details of the supervisory authority.  If you’re VAT registered, you must give your VAT registration number.

Registered companies are subject to additional requirements under the Trading Disclosures Regulations. Companies must state their registered name and company number, the place of registration (e.g. England & Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland) and their registered office address.

This information should be easily accessible to the website visitor. You would normally expect to find these details in the footer of the website or on an ‘about’ page.

Website Terms - All business websites should have some form of ‘website terms’ and a ‘privacy policy’. These may have been provided as part of your website’s development but are often generic and will not necessarily be appropriate or sufficiently comprehensive.

Website terms set out the conditions on which you allow visitors to access the site. For example, to establish that all content and designs on the website belong to you, that you disclaim any responsibility for the accuracy of the information and that you exclude any liability arising from visitors’ use of the website.

Privacy policies govern how you obtain and use visitor information. For a basic website, with no interactivity, the privacy policy would be brief. It would deal primarily with website cookies and the use of any information obtained by the visitor contacting you. For websites with user registration facilities or which use cookies to remember details of previous visits or provide targeted advertising, the privacy policy should be more comprehensive.

The final document you may need is a ‘terms of use’ policy. This is principally for websites with registration and interactive features, for example those which allow users to upload material or interact with other members via forums or chat rooms. These policies will contain the terms on which visitors use those features and broadly deal with right of access, security, prohibitions (i.e. uploading viruses, sensitive material, being offensive) and the consequences of failing to comply with the requirements.

Conclusion - Given the ever rising use of the internet for information, resources and commerce, it is vital to ensure that you are compliant with the laws on the provision of business information and have protected yourself from potential liability to visitors and customers. If you would like us to review your existing website documentation or prepare suitable terms for your website, please do not hesitate to contact us. 

Our next websites feature will focus on e-commerce terms and ensuring compliance with consumer protection laws. 

Please note that this article is for general information only and is not intended and should not be relied upon as legal advice.