What info. must go on a website?
Even if you don’t trade online, it’s a legal requirement to publish certain company information on your website.
These EU regulations were brought in to boost consumer confidence. Publish too much personal information online, however, and there may be other unforeseen repercussions.
This guide states what information is absolutely necessary.
The Bare Minimum
Even if you do not sell products online, your website must make easily and permanently accessible the following information.
1. Company name
The service provider, which may differ from the trading name e.g. “XYZ.com is the trading name of XYZ Enterprises Limited”.
2. Geographic address of the service provider.
3. Company registration number if applicable.
4. VAT number if VAT registered, even if the site does not include online transactions.
5. Relevant supervisory authority if services are subject to an authorisation scheme.
6. For regulated professions, state any professional body or institution registered with.
7. Prices must be clear and in particular state whether they include tax and delivery costs.
8. Contact details “including email address”.
Regulation without industry insight
I would recommend you implement all, except item 8!
Informed web designers will tell you publishing your email address on the internet opens you up to an avalanche of junk email.
Spammers send out robot programs to ‘crawl’ millions of websites every day, harvesting email addresses to target.
Prosecution under item 8 is highly unlikely. To protect your inbox whilst staying legal is as much about interpretation of the law, as it is compliance. The law was introduced to ensure rapid communication was provided. Displaying a phone number resolves this. To explore this stance in more detail, read on!
The Spirit of the Law
Review the test case itself: Bundesverband v Deutsche Internet Versicherung 2008. Service providers must provide details including e-mail address to allow the supplier to be “contacted rapidly and communicated with in a direct and effective manner”.
If you can show that a means of contact was provided, that allows “rapid, direct and effective means of communication”, this should be adequate defence.
The Court further held a communication is effective if it enables adequate information to be obtained within a period which meets the legitimate expectations of the customer.
The means of communication need not be a direct verbal communication and does not have to be instantaneous. In the case, the Court considered an electronic enquiry template offered a direct and effective means of communication within the meaning of the Directive where the online retailer answered questions sent by customers within a period of 30 to 60 minutes.
Where, after first contacting the on-line retailer electronically through its website, a customer ceases to have access to the internet, communication by an enquiry template can no longer be regarded as “effective”. Again, in such circumstances, where a non-electronic means of communication is requested, a telephone number satisfies this requirement.
Sources: Charles Russell soiicitors (PDF), Out-law.com