Web Compliance – Company Information

Written By: Peter Abrahams
Content Copyright © 2007 Bloor. All Rights Reserved.
Also posted on: Accessibility

Much of what I write about in this accessibility blog is related to Web sites. Web accessibility and usability is part of a bigger subject which I call web compliance. This defines all the aspects of good web design that have to be considered to comply with moral, financial and legal practices.

At the beginning of 2007 an amendment was made to the Companies Act that implements a European Law relating to company information that must be included on a web site. I think it is very important to abide by this regulation, not just because it is the law but also because it makes it easier to recognise bona fide web sites. My recommendation would be if you cannot find this information with one click from the home page, via a contact or about link, then you should be cautious about the site. Preferably the link should be available not just from the home page but from every page.

I was made aware of this new legislation by an Out-Law.com article and to quote from the article.

The following is the minimum information that must be on any company’s website (from OUT-LAW’s guide, The UK’s E-commerce Regulations).

  • The name, geographic address and email address of the service provider. The name of the organisation with which the customer is contracting must be given. This might differ from the trading name. Any such difference should be explained-e.g. “XYZ.com is the trading name of XYZ Enterprises Limited.”

    It is not sufficient to include a ‘contact us’ form without also providing an email address and geographic address somewhere easily accessible on the site. A PO Box is unlikely to suffice as a geographic address; but a registered office address would. If the business is a company, the registered office address must be included.

  • If a company, the company’s registration number should be given and, under the Companies Act, the place of registration should be stated (e.g. “XYZ Enterprises Limited is a company registered in England and Wales with company number 1234567”)
  • If the business is a member of a trade or professional association, membership details, including any registration number, should be provided.
  • If the business has a VAT number, it should be stated-even if the website is not being used for e-commerce transactions.
  • Prices on the website must be clear and unambiguous. Also, state whether prices are inclusive of tax and delivery costs.

Finally, do not forget the Distance Selling Regulations which contain other information requirements for on-line businesses that sell to consumers (B2C, as opposed to B2B, sales).