Getting Your Digital House In Order: A Checklist Of Website Legal Requirements

Author:Mr Philip Nolan and Robert McDonagh
Profession:Mason Hayes & Curran

Nearly every business has a website, whether just for information purposes or for selling goods or services. Yet, how many businesses are aware of the legislation which applies to websites and e-commerce transactions? Is your website designed to comply with WEEE, e-commerce, equality and data protection legislation?

It is a criminal offence not to comply with some of this legislation. The way in which you commission and design your website also has significant implications for your business. Over the next three blog posts we're going to set out some important questions that online businesses need to consider.

Do you own your website?

If you paid someone outside your company to create your website, you may not own the intellectual property in the website (such as the design) unless you have a written agreement with the designer transferring the intellectual property to you.

Does your website bind you?

Depending on the design of your website, you may be bound to fulfill orders for goods which are out of stock or to provide the goods or services at a misquoted price.

Through the design of your website and by carefully drafting the applicable terms and conditions, the online order process can be designed so that its completion amounts to an offer by the buyer, which the business may accept or reject. In this way, the business can decline an offer if, for example, the product in question is out of stock or the price is misquoted.

Do you perform online consumer contracts within 30 days?

The European Union (Consumer Information, Cancellation and Other Rights) Regulations, 2013 (the "Consumer Rights Regs") require an online seller to perform its obligations under an online consumer contract within 30 days after the consumer's order, unless the consumer agrees otherwise.

Did you know consumers can cancel online contracts without cause?

The Consumer Rights Regs allow consumers who purchased goods or services online to cancel most contracts without having to give any reason provided it is within fourteen calendar days of delivery of goods or conclusion of a service contract. In such an event, the supplier is required to give a full refund to the consumer. However, in the case of the sale of goods online, the consumer must bear the costs of returning the goods unless the trader agrees otherwise or fails to inform the consumer of this cost prior to conclusion of the contract.

This highlights the importance of carefully drafted terms and conditions...

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