Website Legal Requirements – Ecommerce

Does your website comply with the various legal requirements in the UK?

Below, I have set out the main legal requirements (including some optional recommendations) that you should be complying with.

Mandatory Requirements

About Us/Contact Information

You must provide the following information in an easily accessible position on your website:

  • your legal name i.e. XYZ Ltd
  • your geographical address
  • contact details i.e. telephone number, fax number and email address
  • which country your business is registered in and the registration number
  • details of any supervisory body which regulates your business i.e. the FSA. For regulated bodies more detailed information is required.
  • where you are registered for VAT and your VAT number
  • clear details of prices and whether or not delivery and/or tax is included

Registration under the Data Protection Act

If you collect any personal data on your website – i.e. email address, name or address of a living individual, you will be processing personal data and must register as a data controller under the Data Protection Act. It is a criminal offence not to register.

Privacy Policy

If you are collecting, storing or processing personal data you need to set out how and why you are doing this to comply with the 8 principles of the Data Protection Act. In particular if you are sending marketing emails to potential customers you need to ensure that you have obtained specific consent, BEFORE such emails are sent. Consent should be covered in your privacy policy and the registration process on your website.

Disabled Access to your Web Site

If you offer goods or services on your website you need to make your website accessible to disabled users. Level 1 compliance with the WC3 standard will usually suffice.

click here for further details on WC3 compliance

Trade Marks and Logos

Do not use other people’s trade marks or logos without their consent on your website or you could be liable to pay damages for trade mark infringements.


Do not use other people’s content without their consent on your website, or you could be liable to pay damages for copyright infringements. If you have links to other people’s content, make sure that this is permitted in their terms of use and ensure that the information opens in a new frame.

Online Payment

If you accept online payment for goods or services you must provide customers with specific information about their right to cancel, VAT and prices, refunds and defective goods PRIOR to the sale being concluded.

Recommended Requirements

In addition to the above mandatory rules it is advisable to have the following, in addition.

Terms of Use/Disclaimer

You should set out the rules applicable to persons using and accessing the goods and services on your website. For example state who may access the website i.e. consumers, businesses, over 18s. You should also aim to limit your liability for information on the web site. For example state which law applies, your limits on liability etc. However, please note that you cannot exclude or limit certain liabilities in particular circumstances  – particularly in relation to consumer, injuries caused by goods and services, or defects in your goods and services.

Copyright Notice

Protect the information on your website by inserting a copyright notice “© company name 2010.  All rights reserved.” Without this notice,  it may be difficult in some countries to take any action against a copyright infringement.

The above are examples of the main legal requirements for websites. This is a very complicated area of law and the specific rules that apply to you will depend on what goods and services you are offering, whether you are acting BTB (business to business) or BTC (business to customer), where you are based, where your customers are located and many other factors.


If you would like to have your website reviewed for compliance with English law or have any queries about compliance please contact:

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