Just what do you need to do to ensure that a business website is fully legally compliant? Ed Harris Hughes explains.
Even though the website does not have eâ'commerce functionality, it will still be subject to the following legislation:
- Eâ'Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002.
- The Data Protection Act 1998.
- Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003.
- Disability Discrimination Act 1995.
This means that it must provide a minimum level of information to its users which is easily, directly and permanently accessible. This information should include the name of the business, its eâ'mail address, its geographical address, the company's registration number and place of registration, its VAT registration number and details of any professional association it is a part of.
As the website contains functionality which allows the company to hold data about identifiable individuals, it will need to be registered with the Information Commissioner as a "data controller" and comply with the provisions and principles of the Data Protection Act to ensure fair use and processing of that personal data.
Website terms and conditions are imperative for your company in order to protect its interests. They should include aspects such as acceptance by website users of your use of the information on the website, changes of content, links to other websites, copyright protection and disclaimers and limitation of liability indemnities.
You need to make sure that any intellectual property rights are protected properly - for example, by incorporating a copyright notice and putting express restrictions on copying logos. Make use of your registered trademark symbols and obtain appropriate licences and consents for the use of third-party material.
If you link to other websites, it's advisable to ensure you have a statement in your terms and conditions that you do not accept liability for the content of any third-party website.
As the company has appointed a web designer to create the site, it is important that the designer agrees in writing to assign any intellectual property rights that arise out of his work on the site. The designer should also give you assurances that the functionality of the site is compliant with the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA).
- Register with the Information Commissioner.
- Do your terms and conditions include provisions limiting your liability?
- Is the site DDA compliant?
- Do you have the authority to use any third-party material on your site?
- Have you protected your website by including a copyright statement?
If you do not obtain the copyright in your website from the designer and fail to include statements affirming the copyright, you may not be able to take action against a competitor who copies material from your website.
Ed Harris Hughes is a solicitor at Collins Benson Goldhill