Our e-commerce law solicitors understand that every era of business yields new strategies and new ways of doing business. The internet has so radically changed business that the rules for corporate strategy have evolved dramatically in the last ten years. E-commerce involves many areas of law which regulate online commercial activity. We provide a full range of e-commerce law services to help you comply with the various internet and data protection regulations, as well as ensuring your rights are protected online.
How our e commerce law solicitors can help you
Our services include:
- IT contracts – design, hosting and maintenance agreements
- Online terms of trade
- Protecting your Intellectual Property rights
- Data protection and privacy issues
- Copyright protection and brand strategies
- Linking agreements, strategic partnerships, collaboration agreements and joint ventures
- Rights acquisitions and clearances
- Online betting and gaming, lotteries and competitions
Why choose our e commerce law solicitors?
- Our e-commerce solicitors are highly specialist
- We provide city quality e-commerce law expertise at local prices
- We can see you in our Salisbury, Andover or Amesbury offices – or if you prefer can take instructions on e-commerce law issues from you by phone and e-mail wherever you are based
E Commerce – What Your Business Needs to Know
The E Commerce Regulations were introduced into UK law from a European Community directive in August 2002. Their main objective was to ensure that E contracts were binding across Europe and to develop a safer environment for consumers online. However, the regulations also introduced principal rules on what information companies should be displaying via their e commerce environments and how they are able to advertise.
The regulations apply to any business that advertises or trades using online services i.e. on their company website or via email. It also applies to those who use online services for communication networks. Any business wanting to trade online should make sure they have a good understanding of the basics of e commerce law and if there are in any doubt about the position, they would be well advised to get the advice of experienced and specialist intellectual property Solicitors.
Here is some information aimed at ensuring that your business complies with the E commerce regulations:
Your business website must display the following information:
- Your businesses name, address and contact details;
- Your VAT registration number;
- Details of any publicly held register in which your business features and the appropriate registration number;
- Details of any professional registers under which your business is enlisted and the appropriate registration number;
- The particulars of any supervisory body under which your business is regulated; and
- Any professional titles held by your business and in which European states this title is recognised.
- If you are selling goods via your website, then details of tax and delivery costs should be provided.
The regulations also apply to businesses that send promotional emails. ‘Unsolicited commercial communications’ or ‘spam’ emails as they are more commonly known, have to be advertised as such upon receipt by the consumer. Consequently, a spam notification must appear in the subject box and be visible before having to read the main body of the email.
On a more general note, commercial communications via email should display the following information:
- A clear indication of whom the email has been sent by;
- A clear indication of any goods/services that are promotional, premium or are belonging to a competition; and
- A clear explanation of any terms and conditions relating to these goods or services.
You must also be aware that the Companies Act 2006 (incorporating the Business Name Act 1985) applies to electronic letters and emails as well as hard copies. This means that the same information provided on your business letterhead should be reflected in your electronic correspondence i.e. business name, registered address and companies house registration number.
If your business conducts contracting online, then you must make the following information available and clear for the consumer:
- A clear statement of the ‘total’ price and whether it includes delivery charges and vat;
- A description of any technical steps that the consumer has to take in order to complete the contract online;
- Adescription of any technical steps to take if the consumer experiences an input error;
- Indication to whether or not your business will file the contract and how this can be accessed by the consumer;
A list of the languages in which the conclusion of the contract is available; and
- Details of any code of conduct under which your business is obliged to comply with and information on how the consumer can read these rules.
- The consumer must be able to access any terms and conditions to the contract before clicking on the ‘order’ button and these should also be available to print. If a contract or order is placed, then an electronic receipt of the agreement should be sent to the purchaser together with an immediately acknowledgement of their order.
You should also be aware that the Distance Selling Regulations 2000 give customers who conclude transactions at a distance (ie not face to face in a shop) seven days to cancel the transaction even if delivery occurs within that time. The regulations do not apply to products and/or services that are bespoke or which are time sensitive (fresh produce and newspapers) or which relate to the travel and tourism industry.
Rules under the Companies Act 2006
As mentioned earlier a company must display certain information about itself on letterheads and electronic communication. However, a company that is registered under Companies House should also display the following information somewhere on their website:
- Company registration number
- Place of registration
- Their registered office
- Information on whether or not the company is currently in administration or liquidation.
This information does not have to appear as a disclaimer on every E-page. Instead it is often collaborated together under a ‘Legal’ tab on the website.
The E commerce regulations introduced certain reprimands for non-compliance. If your business is found to be non-compliant the regulations provide that consumers or clients can rescind their contracts. If the client or consumer suffers a loss because of a breach of the regulations, then they can sue you for damages for a breach of your statutory duty. The courts also have the authority to order your business to issue a corrective statement.
In serious situations the Director General of Fair Trading and Trading Standards can apply to the court for a ‘Stop Now’ Enforcement Order. These are awarded if the Director General and/or the court feels that your E-commerce could potentially “harm the collective interests of consumers” as a whole. If you then fail to comply with the enforcement order you run the risk of receiving a heavy fine and/or imprisonment.
The law regarding trading online is getting increasingly complex. Don’t risk getting it wrong – make sure you appoint specialist intellectual property lawyers with good experience of e-commerce law.