As a business owner, you no doubt know, it’s important to ensure that your website is compliant with UK law.
There are a number of legal requirements for websites in the UK, even more so since GDPR came about. If your business doesn’t comply, your business could face legal action.
Let’s cover the legal requirements for websites – UK edition.
In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the key legal requirements for websites in the UK. We’ll also discuss the importance of website compliance along with the steps you can take to ensure that your website is up to scratch.
Note: As with anything legal, if you have specific queries, be sure to seek advice. This post aims to give you a broad overview so you’re not completely in the dark when making a decision.
So without further ado, let’s get straight into it.
1) The identity of your business
One of the key legal requirements for websites in the UK is that you must show your business identity. This means including information such as;
- Company name
- Registered company number
- Place (country) of registration
- Registered office address
- The fact that you are a “Limited Company” when applicable
- Contact details including email
- Information on how to contact the business via non-electronic means
- Company VAT number if applicable
- Details of any trade bodies or regulator registration
This information must be easily accessible and should be prominently displayed, most often you can find this information in the footer area of many websites.
Again, failure to comply with this legal requirement can result in fines or other penalties, so it is important to make sure that you are compliant.
2) Your policies & procedures
There are a few legal requirements for businesses to display on their websites in the UK. Here are some of the key ones:
- Terms and Conditions: these set out the rules that users must agree to when using your website. They can cover things like acceptable use, liability and copyright. While not required under UK law, having a Terms & Conditions agreement helps protect your business.
- An age restriction notice: if your website sells products or services that can only be purchased by adults, you must include a notice to this affect.
If you’re not sure whether your website complies with the law, you can get professional help. As mentioned, your web developer or a solicitor should be able to advise you on the legal requirements for your website.
3) The ability for website users to grant consent for the use of THEIR data
The right of website users to grant consent for the use of their data is a key legal requirement in the UK. This means that website operators must obtain explicit consent from users before using their data for any purpose.
Website operators must make it clear to users how their data will be used, and they must obtain consent for each specific use. This can be done through a variety of means, such as an opt-in form or a notice on the website.
The legal requirements for websites in the UK are designed to protect the rights of users and to ensure that their data is used in a fair and transparent way. Websites who fail to meet these requirements can face a fine up to £18 million or 4% gross turnover (whichever is greater) as set by GDPR.
4) Cyber security and protecting personal data
The ICO have published a set of technical security processes that represent appropriate measures under GDPR. Your website legal requirements will depend on the sensitivity of the data you are collecting and storing, as well as other factors such as the size and complexity of your organisation.
If you are handling large amounts of personal data, or special categories of data, then you will need to take extra steps to protect that information. The ICO’s guidance includes a list of additional security measures that organisations should consider in these cases.
In general, all organisations handling personal data should have in place robust security measures to protect against unauthorised access, alteration, disclosure or destruction of that data. These measures should include:
- Encryption of personal data in transit and at rest
- Use of strong passwords and two-factor authentication
- Physical security measures to protect against unauthorised access to systems
- Regular monitoring and testing of your website for any vulnerabilities
Most of the above can be achieved with a robust website maintenance plan.
Note: If you maintain your own website, check out our post on what you need to know about maintaining your website.
In addition, organisations should also have procedures in place to deal with data breaches, including a plan for notifying the relevant authorities and affected individuals.
Side note: If you haven’t already, it’s certainly worth checking to see if your business needs to be registered with the ICO. Regardless if you’re a limited company or a sole trader, If you process data there’s a good chance you need to be registered. You can start by conduct a self asssment or alternatively, you can seek advice from a data protection expert. .
The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 protects original creative works from being copied without permission. This includes things like website design, photos, illustrations and written content. If you want to use someone else’s creative work on your website, you need to get their permission first.
There are some limited circumstances under which you can use someone else’s work without permission. These are known as ‘exemptions’ and include using a copyrighted work for the purpose of criticism, review, news reporting, teaching or research.
If you’re not sure whether you need permission to use someone else’s work, you should get legal advice.
The penalties for breaching copyright law can be severe, so it’s important to make sure you comply with the law. If you’re found to be breaching copyright, you could be ordered to pay damages or an injunction could be issued against you, preventing you from using the copyrighted material. You might also be liable for criminal sanctions.
6) Consumer protection
If you sell products on your website, there are certain legal requirements that you need to take in order to protect consumers. Here are some of the key legal requirements for e-commerce websites in the UK:
- Making sure your terms and conditions are up to date and compliant with the law. This is vital as it will set out the legal basis on which you are selling, what your customers can expect from you, and their legal rights
- Putting a refund/cancellation policy in place in line with the law. You must give customers a certain amount of time to change their mind and get a refund, and this period starts from the moment they place their order
- If you sell products that come with a warranty or guarantee, then you need to make sure that this is clearly stated on your website
- Clear and accurate pricing information must be displayed on your website. This includes any taxes or delivery charges
- Delivery and returns information – this must be easily accessible from your home page, and should include details of how long customers have to return items, who is responsible for return postage costs, and any other relevant information
All websites must comply with the Equality Act 2010, which includes provisions for accessibility.
This means ensuring your website is meeting the following requirements;
- Ensuring you’ve included people with disabilities within your user research
- Meeting the AA standard of Web Content Accessibility guidelines (WCAG 2.1)
- Make sure you have an accessibility statement on your website
Final thoughts on legal requirements for websites UK edition
So we’ve touched on legal requirements for websites in the UK and Web Development Laws in general. By now, you should have a better grasp on things to look for or questions to ask when getting a new website.
As we touched on at the beginning of this post, this is just a general overview. The last thing you want is a hefty GDPR fine which could have been prevented by clarifying briefly with a solicitor.
Have a question? Leave a comment below or drop us a message – we’re happy to help where we can.