Your website and the law, what you need to know

Author: Douglas-Jones Mercer.

Date: January 31st 2017

When launching or relaunching your website there are some key legal issues that you should be aware of.

Hiring a web designer? You need a clear written agreement
Have a clear message about what you want at the outset and that you have intellectual property rights in the website. Be clear about who will look after the site, what is included and how much it will cost.

Who can access your website?
If your website is illegal in other countries there will be consequences. Be clear about terms of use and which countries the website is targeted at on the site itself.

What information should your website include?
Business name and address is key. If you are a limited company you should also include: place of registration, registered office address and company number.
If your website contains prices you must also state whether prices include VAT and delivery charges. If individuals are able to buy on your website then there are additional rules you need to include, such as written confirmation of orders.

Do you need a privacy policy?
You must comply with data protection regulations so you will need to include a privacy policy to show visitors how you will use information. You may have to register with the Information Commissioner. You will also need to comply with rules on cookies and include specific ‘opt in’ and ‘opt out’ options.

What other issues could you face?
Other websites may divert your visitors to their site by using a similar domain name. To prevent this consider subscribing to a domain monitoring service.
Provide a disclaimer on your website to limit liability for any damage a visitor may suffer from following your advice or downloading files from your site that contain viruses.
You also need to consider issues relating to discrimination, specific sectors of industry, chat rooms, third party content and hyperlinks.

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