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Selling Online – Your Legal Requirements

Selling Online - Your Legal Requirements

Selling Online Your Legal Requirements

The following information is intended to be used as a guide for UK businesses to your selling online legal requirements, it is not guaranteed to cover all of your legal requirements. Further advice can be gained from contacting Trading Standards or an ecommerce specialist solicitor.

The Sales of Goods Act 1979 applies equally online as it does offline. A basic summary is: “traders must sell goods that are as described and of satisfactory quality.”

For further information refer to: Sales of Goods Act Fact Sheet

Distance Selling Regulations

Special Distance Selling Regulations apply to consumers who shop online, this protection includes:

  • The right to receive clear information about goods and services before deciding to buy
  • Confirmation of this information in writing after making a purchase
  • A cooling off period of seven working days in which the consumer can withdraw from the contract. This runs from the day the contract was concluded for services, and the day after delivery for products.
  • Protection from credit card fraud

More detailed advice can be found on the Office of Fair Trading website.

Website Checklist

The following checklist covers the main items that are required for businesses trading online.

  • Full company details:
  • Business Name
  • UK geographic address (a PO box address can be used)
  • Contact email address
  • Full terms and conditions – must be readily accessible, fair and meaningful
  • Clear complaints procedure
  • Information on customer cancellation rights
  • Your policy for product returns
  • Your policy on substitutes in the event that goods or services are not available – the cost of returning unsatisfactory substitute goods must be refunded and this must be specified on the website
  • A statement that all contracts fall under the juridiction of UK law.
  • You must indicate that when buying online the customer is entering a legally binding contract
  • Privacy policy
  • Data Protection Statement
  • Information on security issues (including use of cookies)

A description of the products or services being sold

  • Information about the availability, delivery and dispatch of goods
  • Pricing information
  • Delivery charges
  • Taxes, Excise duty, etc
  • Information about how long offers or prices apply
  • VAT number (if appropriate)

Details of stages involved in the ordering process

  • Customers must be made aware of which point they will commit themselves to the contract
  • An opt-in box for unsolicited e-mail where applicable

If you belong to any Registration Scheme or Professional Bodies, quote your registration number, professional title or other means of identification in that register.

Additional legislation that apply to your business:

  • The Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000
  • Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002
  • Consumer Protection Act (Misleading Prices)
  • Product Safety Legislation and the Trade Descriptions Act

This article is part of a series written by Sadie Knight of Glassraven web design, Coventry. The full series of articles is available on the Glassraven website.

Glassraven, established in February 2002, are specialists in web design, ecommerce web design and bespoke web development.

Alison is the Director and Founder of WP Fiddly Bits, the WordPress Website Maintenance experts, and contributes to the WP Fiddly Bits WordPress blog. She also uses her background in marketing to help clients get found everywhere online.


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