Understanding website compliance


Anyone that creates a website must ensure that they follow website compliance regulations. All websites come under these regulations, not just websites that sell goods or services to the public or other businesses.

It is vitally important that you pay close attention to the laws and regulations that impact on your website. Failure to do so could mean a lawsuit against your business.

What are the laws on website compliance?

There are no clear laws that govern the web. However, there are some laws that you should be aware of, including:

  • The Data Protection Act
  • The E-Commerce Regulations
  • The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations
  • The Distance Selling Regulations
  • The Disability Discrimination Act
  • The Trade Descriptions Act
  • The Control of Misleading Advertising Regulations 1988
  • The Consumer Protection Act 1987
  • British Code of Advertising and Sales Promotion
  • Defamation laws
  • Copyright and Intellectual Property Laws

In particular, careful note should be taken of E-Commerce Regulations and the Distance Selling Regulations. The latter requires online traders to provide certain information about their business including:

  • Goods and services
  • Payment and delivery arrangements
  • The consumer’s right to cancel

Consumers should also be provided with a ‘cooling off’ period of seven working days. The E-Commerce Regulations require those trading online to provide buyers with certain information such as:

  • Name
  • Geographic address
  • Contact details
  • VAT number

In the case of a breach of these regulations, customers can cancel their orders, seek court orders requiring compliance, and sue for damages if they have suffered loss, and therefore it is important to cover these matters on your website.

Each of these laws and regulations form part of overall website compliance. It is your responsibility to ensure your website is following each of the above regulations as failure to do so could mean a fine or imprisonment.

Ensuring compliance

To ensure your website compliance is up-to-date, put in place regular audits of your website. This will highlight any aspects of your website that may need overhauling or tightening up.

Full compliance in certain areas such as the distance selling regulations and the discrimination laws is very important. If you are in any doubt about your compliance in these areas, always seek legal advice as soon as possible.

The services of a solicitor with experience in website compliance can be a great bonus as they have detailed knowledge of all the compliance regulations and how they overlap and complement each other. Your solicitor can easily identify areas where your website is vulnerable to a potential legal action.

IT law is complex and fast-changing. Every week there are new decisions and IT lawyers have a huge task keeping up with them. A good IT lawyer will have kept themselves up to date with all the latest developments and is therefore in the best position to give you sound advice.

Are you unsure if your website complies with website compliance regulations? Contact Law can put you in touch with a specialist intellectual property solicitor with expertise in IT law. Please call us on 0800 1777 162 or complete the web-form above.

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