If you are using a screen reader here is some more information about this page. The right hand column, which comes first, contains information about the terms of services provided, contact information, and some links to articles on this site. The main column which comes next, contains short descriptions of things which may concern the operator of an e-commerce website. There is more detail about these concerns in a number of mouseovers just after each short description. Nearer the bottom of the page a proposed solution is set out. The solution which is offered is a site audit carried out by an experienced barrister. Finally a footer contains links to other parts of the site. Please let me know if any aspect of accessibility could be improved.
*UK law? This site's contents only apply to UK web sites.
If you are not a solicitor, legal advice is given to you under the "public access" scheme of the Bar Council of England and Wales. It is fully covered by professional indemnity insurance.
View the terms and conditions under which such legal advice is offered (opens in new window).
Solicitors! Contact the clerk to Jeremy Gordon at Chambers of Ami Feder, Lamb Building, Temple, London EC4Y 7AS, tel: 020 7797 7788.
Concerned about ..
What should be in the privacy statement depends on exactly what your site does and what you do with the data you gather. Reference can be made to the Information Commissioner's website at www.ico.gov.uk for some help. See in particular "Privacy Notices - code of practice."
cookie use and confidentiality?
Cookie use and confidentiality issues
See my views on the new cookie laws
data protection principles?
Data Protection principles
If your site handles personal data either client-side or server-side which is almost certainly the case if it makes sales, then care must be taken to handle the data in manner consistent with the Data Protection Act 1998. So the data may only be handled if the user expressly consents or as a step towards a sale at the user's request. It must be handled fairly, lawfully, accurately, and securely, and it should not be handled to excess nor for longer than is necessary.
If you control and are responsible for the keeping and use of personal information on computer or in structured manual files then you are a "data controller" and unless you are exempt you should register with the Information Commissioner.
From 1 October 2010 the Equality Act 2010 has applied (previously the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 applied). Basically there is a statutory duty to make reasonable adjustments to your website in anticipation that it will be visited by people with a disability. The most common changes that are required are to ensure (as far as can reasonably be done) that the site works with the keyboard and does not need to be used with the mouse, and that all material is accessible by those with poor vision (who may use a screen reader) or poor hearing. Consideration should be given to those who need time and help to navigate around and understand the site, and to complete forms.
See my article on this site accessibility: what is reasonable?.
Worried by ..
distance selling and e-commerce regulations?
Distance selling and e-commerce regulations
If you run a merchant site it must comply with the Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002 and (for consumer sales) the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000. They provide for necessary and timely disclosures prior to sale and the form these should take. In the case of consumer sales (not for the purpose of a business), they also provide for a 30-day delivery time (unless otherwise agreed) and a cooling off period after the sale.
additional disclosures for companies?
Additional dislosures required by companies
The Companies (Trading Disclosures) Regulations 2008 (as amended) require certain additional disclosures by a company on its paperwork, websites and parts of websites.
the correct application of vat to suit the customer's location and type?
Application of vat
The application of vat to internet sales is not obvious or straightforward, and changes from time to time. Currently, the way it is applied depends on whether or not you are supplying "electronically supplied services", but it is not obvious what is covered by these words. There are differences in application of vat depending on whether or not you are supplying for the purpose of businesses and whether you supply within the UK, to the EU, or outside the EU and sometimes depending on whether the customer is vat registered.
See my article on this site internet sales: the application of vat.
Not sure about ..
general contract terms?
General contract terms
Your general terms and conditions of sale will need to fit exactly and properly with your site's products and procedures, and with the disclosures required by the distance selling and e-commerce regulations (in so far as they apply), and with your privacy statement. To be relied upon they should be clear and unambigious, preferably in plain English, and not unreasonable so as to fall foul of the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contract Regulations 1999.
licence terms and ip issues?
Licence terms and ip issues
If you are selling any items or services which grant a software licence, or permission to copy amend or use a work, then you will need to bear in mind the copyright laws which apply, and whether the law relating to confidentiality should be invoked. It is important to be precise whilst at the same time covering all possible actions which could damage your business.
Liability limitation or exclusion
Terms and conditions which attempt to limit or exclude liability need to be carefully drafted to avoid being declared unreasonable under the relevant statutory provisions. They must be precise and cover all possible eventualities which would damage your business.
A review of your site's procedures, contracts and disclosures and a certificate of compliance with UK internet
law from a highly experienced barrister.
ask for a quote to check your site and processes for compliance including privacy statement (this will depend on the size and complexity of your site)
ask for a quote to check your terms and conditions of sale
please email me in the first instance
this service is of course in complete confidence
this is usually a 7-14 day turnaround from start of work
legal advice is provided under the "public access" scheme of the Bar Council of England and Wales and is fully insured by professional indemnity insurance