E-commerce Legal Requirements

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If you run an e-commerce system over the Internet there are certain regulations you must adhere to. These regulations are in place to give a consumers confidence in the act of buying online (in lieu of face-of-face contact) and to ensure that all traders have the same basic standards. These regulations are:

  • Electronic Commerce Regulations (ECRs)
  • Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000

These regulations state that anyone selling without face to face contact (i.e over the Internet, mail order etc) must provide certain pre-contractual information to the consumer. At the beginning of the year we ran an e-commerce survey that showed us 69% of all those surveyed thought that ‘Fraud and Identity Theft’ was something to be concerned about when buying online. These regulations should give the buyer confidence in their security and rights while buying online so they know they won’t lose money, be left with a bad product or even have their card details sold on!

Rather than discuss each regulation in detail we’re just going to sum up the information you need to show when selling online is below. There is a lot more to it than our brief article so for further information please see the Office of Fair Trading website then go and see your lawyer!

Electronic Commerce Regulations (ECRs)

  • Identifying business information: Company name, postal address (and registered office address if this is different) and email address and the company’s registration number.
  • Information on any trade bodies you are a member of.
  • VAT number to be stated if registered.
  • Clearly display prices and whether they include VAT and delivery and have this information easily navigable.

Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations

  • Clearly state the details of the items or services on offer prior to a sale such as: Cost of item or service and a description, identity of the seller, delivery costs and times, Information on the cancellation policy and returns (including details of any premium rate numbers the consumer may have to call to return items.
  • Confirmation all orders placed in writing. A person making a purchase online must be given acknowledgment of purchase and a means of rectifying errors as soon as possible after the purchase.
  • On top of this, when buying online (and over phone etc) a consumer can claim a ‘cooling off’ period of 7 days where they can return goods for a refund

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