Your Website – Is It Legal?

So you have just had your website built.  It looks pretty, has all the latest and greatest whizz bang effects, you have the blog, you have got all the keywords and SEO sorted and you think it’s the best thing ever!  Now ask yourself a simple question: is my website on the right side of the law? Omit to do this could cause you problems later on.  In blind ignorance, we can somehow fall foul of the law and think our web designer has got it all covered.  All too often they do not.

Did you know that new legal requirements came into being in 2007 which you may have missed?  I remember this law coming into being as I was heavily into website development back then.

In particular, this means that businesses must include in the footer of their websites some basic company information:

  •  company registration details (ie registered address, registration number)
  • (where registered for VAT) the company VAT number
  • the business name of the organisation with which the customer is doing business must be given.  (This can sometimes be different to the trading name and, if so, this difference should be clarified: ie “JoeBloggy.com is the trading name of Joe Bloggy Enterprises Limited.”)
  • if your business is being wound up then this fact should be also be disclosed on your website.

 

There are other points of interest in relation to your business website that you should also pay attention to:

  1. reviews:  we all love to have great reviews but be careful if you do as by law you must show genuine, relevant and lawful customer reviews.  In other words, you are not allowed to suppress unfavourable reviews – check out the case against Woolovers Limited, a knitwear retailer (11 August 2016).
  2. pricing: if you show pricing on your website then they must be clear AND specify whether VAT is included or not.
  3. trade or professional association: if you belong to a professional body/association etc then you should display your membership details, including any registration number.

 

Compliance with the most up to date legislation in all areas of your business is obviously desirable for all business owners.  If you ensure that you always work with professionals who pay attention to the small things you are more likely to have this covered but, in the final analysis, it is down to the business owner to comply and it is the business owner who could well lose most if they do not.  As a general rule of thumb, if you ensure you include the same information you are required to put on your letterheads and promotional material then you should cover most if not all the requirements but please ensure you take the appropriate professional advice.  Scheduling a regular review/audit of your public profile(s) in all their forms (ie written matter, online social media/websites/blogs) is a great idea to ensure your business is consistent in the information it puts out there but it will also help ensure you comply with current legislation too.

Note: SMG Virtual PA aims to keep abreast of such changes for the benefit of their own business and its clients.  SMG Virtual PA does not profess to be a legal professional.

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