The basic legal requirements for your website

More than 95% of the websites that we see are breaking at least one UK law. The reason is basically that the vast majority of web design agencies are nothing short of cowboys and the internet is the new lawless wild west. Nobody seems to take an interest in the laws that apply to websites and the internet, not even those organisations whose job is to police those laws!

So, what are the basic things that you need to do?

Well, there are some laws which apply specifically to the websites, some that have been extended to include websites and some which have always applied to everything without a distinction for websites.

Firstly, for limited companies (and similar entities) you need to have the same information on your websites that you have to have everywhere else, ie. your registered address, company number and phone number.

This rule applies to everything, so it also includes your emails.

"Sent from my iPhone" is not enough!

The European E-commerce Directive has introduced some requirements specifically for websites. And even if your website is not "e-commerce", you still have to comply...the directive was just badly named.

This legislation requires you to also have your email address on your website and this is yet another case of politicians introducing laws about things they don't understand.

It is actually more in keeping with the spirit of this legislation to not have an email address on your website. Find out why here.

The Disability Discrimination Act applies to websites and, for a web developer, it is trivially easy to comply with this law. It is open to some intepretation, but there are several things which all websites can do to cover most bases.
So it's a shame when most websites, even Government websites, fail to satisfy the basics. There are a few behind-the-scenes coding requirements that need to be set which helps your website to be used and understood by the software (and browser settings) that some disabled visitors may be using. There is an added incentive that several of the requirements can simultaneously improve your SEO too.

The most recent requirement is another one of those cases of politicians creating laws about technology they don't understand. Namely cookies. I won't go into the details of why this law is pointless, we've written enough articles on this already. But, basically, you now need to have a "cigarette-packet" style warning on your website to say that you are using cookies. There are a few exceptions, but they account for less than 1% of cookies so it's fairly safe to assume you need the warning.

The exact nature of the warning is not defined and the requirements have changed several times in the short time since it became law.

The cut-and-paste cookie law tool that we've created is the most discreet cookie law tool that we've seen. We've had it inspected by 2 e-commerce specialist solicitors, who both said it is "probably" compliant, which is about the best that can be said until the Government decides what they want, or revokes the law.

There are some extra laws that apply if you are selling through an e-commerce website because of the distance selling regulations. We always advise our e-commerce clients to speak to a specialist solicitor regarding their distance selling obligations and to get a good set of terms and conditions drawn up, because, without them, a well meaning company can easily get into a lot of trouble due to honest mistakes.

In short, there are a lot of legal implications for your website, and we don't claim to be legal experts in this matter. However, we do claim to have a better idea than almost all of our competitors.

If you'd like us to quickly point out any laws which your website may be breaking, please contact us on 0845 269 9624 for a free assessment. We can even do it while you are on the phone.