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How can I make sure that my website is compliant with the law


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6 February 2009

Everyone who operates a website needs to comply with a number of different legislative provisions dealing with various issues.  These are summarised below.

Identify yourself

If the entity operating the website is a UK registered company, it must provide its full legal name, place of incorporation, registered number and registered office address on its website(1).

If the entity operating the website is not a UK registered company, it must still provide certain information about itself, such as its name and its geographical address(2).

Other information

All website operators (whether or not they are a UK or foreign company or a sole trader) must provide, in addition to certain other information, an email address for communication, and if the website operator is subject to VAT, its VAT registration number.(2)

Selling goods and services online

If you are selling goods and services on your website, depending on whether you are selling to businesses or consumers, you need to comply with the regulations that apply to e-commerce(2) and distance selling(3).

You will also need to comply with the regulations which relate to unfair commercial practices(4) and, if you dealing with consumers, the regulations dealing with unfair contract terms(5).

Collecting personal information

If you collect personal information from users of your website, via a contact form or otherwise, or if your website sends out cookies, you need to provide a form of fair processing notice or ‘privacy policy’ which explains what personal information you have collected and what you will do with it(6).

You will also need to make sure that you comply with the eight data protection principles set out in the DPA for dealing with personal data and, where required to do so, you must register with the Information Commissioner’s office.

What happens if I do not comply with the law?

If you are a UK registered company, it is a criminal offence to fail to provide on your website the required company information.

If you are selling goods and services on your website and you fail to comply with the applicable regulations, the Office of Fair Trading can seek an ‘enforcement order’ against you.

If you are collecting personal information on your website and you fail to comply with the DPA, you may be committing a criminal offence, depending on the nature of the breach.

For detailed advice on intellectual property issues including in relation to websites, please contact David Marchese, partner, or Mitra Pahlabod, assistant solicitor.


  1. The Companies (Trading Disclosures) Regulations 2008.
  2. The Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002 (as amended).
  3. The Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000 (as amended).
  4. The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.
  5. The Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999; the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977 also applies.
  6. The Data Protection Act 1998 (‘DPA’)

© Davenport Lyons 2009.  All rights reserved.
This document reflects the law as at February 2009.  It is general in nature, and does not  purport in any way to be comprehensive  or a substitute for specialist legal advice in individual circumstances.

About the Author

Davenport Lyons [] is an international business law firm based in the West End of London. The firm has an excellent reputation in areas spanning corporate to property, defamation to intellectual property, music to film finance and digital rights to sport.

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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2009-03-26 01:14:35 in Legal Articles

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