Legal considerations with e-commerce

Electronic Commerce Regulations : legal points to think about when setting up an ecommernce website

Legal considerations with e-commerce

Whether you are already running an online business or are still in the initial stages, it's worth bearing in mind that there are certain regulations you must adhere to when selling online.

These regulations are to give consumers confidence while buying online and to ensure that all traders are following the same basic standards. These standards are:

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

We recommend you get legal advice before beginning to sell online to ensure you are meeting these standards or please see the Office of Fair Trading website. We have a rough summary of them below.

Electronic Commerce Regulations (ECRs)

The points below must be clealy displayed somewhere on your website or on any electronic data sent from your ocmpany including the likes of e-mail.

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

Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations

  1. 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).
  2. Confirmation of 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.
  3. 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.

Again, there is a lot more to it than this but if you click on each regulation you will have more information appear in another window.