This guide sets out a checklist of legal issues to consider in the context of selling online. Links to other Out-Law guides have been provided in many areas, and these guides should also be considered to gain a fuller understanding of the legal issues raised by online selling.
Company and Product Information
- Have you included information about your company? This should include full company name, company registration number for a limited company, relevant contact details including a business address, VAT number if relevant, email address, etc.
Is this information clearly displayed to your potential customer? (See our articles on Dealing with Consumers, The UK's E-Commerce Regulations)
- Have you provided the main characteristics or description of the goods or services being provided?
- If your company is acting on behalf of another entity or third party, you should also provide the address and identity of the other trader.
- Have you properly incorporated your terms and conditions? (See our guide, Online Contract Formation)
Terms and Conditions
- Are your website terms and conditions fair and reasonable?
- Are they capable of being saved and printed properly and legibly?
- Do you direct your customer towards the terms and conditions during the sale process?
- Do you advise your customer of all the technical steps to make a transaction?
Offer, Acceptance and Liability
- Do you make it clear that your potential customer is making an offer when placing an order which you can either accept or decline?
- Have you included a mechanism in relation to acceptance of orders where you control the point at which the contract is formed? Do you provide for the timing and deemed place of sending and receipt of electronic communications? (See our guide, Online Contract Formation)
- Have you limited your liability? (See our guide on Using Exemption Clauses in Web Sales
- Has this been brought to the attention of your customer?
- Is it reasonable?
- If you are dealing with the USA, is it in bold type and capital letters?
- Can you insure against the liability that you are accepting?
- Are your prices clear and unambiguous?
- Have you provided a summary total of the goods and/or services (inclusive of all taxes)?
- Have you provided clear information regarding the method of payment?
- If you provide goods/services that a customer cannot reasonably calculate them in advance, you should explain the manner by which the price is to be calculated.
- Have you taken steps to avoid being bound by mistakes in pricing information? (See our guide on How to protect your site against pricing errors)
- Have you advised your potential customers of delivery times, costs and relevant taxes?
- Have you notified your customer that they will have to bear the cost of returning the goods?
- Have you provided for the payment mechanism? If payment is by credit card, have you made it clear that receipt of payment does not mean that you have accepted an order and that you reserve the right to return the payment to the customer?
- Have you included any necessary confirmations from the customer as to age, country of residence and/or authority to use the payment card?
- Does the site provide a means of correcting errors after the order is placed?
- Have you notified the customer of the existence and/or conditions of after-sale service, after-sale support or commercial guarantees?
- If your helpline incurs significant charges for the customer, have you notified them of these charges?
Other contractual notices and policies
- Have you included provisions as to:
- a cooling-off period?
- delivery and associated charges?
- a returns and refunds policy?
- any rights that the consumer may have under local law? (e.g. do distance selling regulations apply?)
- where applicable, have you notified the customer of the minimum duration of their obligations under the contract?
- the conditions available to all parties to terminate the contract?
- the duration of the contract?
- a choice of law and forum clause?
- your ability to change terms on notice?
- complaint handling policy?
- Have you included an appropriate data protection notice? (See our guide on Data Protection)
- Do you need to include any other notices? (e.g. where you are not selling to customers resident in certain countries?)
- Have you included an online copyright notice? Does it grant a limited licence? (e.g. personal use, copy to hard disk, print etc.)
- Have you included a linking policy?
Have you included all necessary disclaimers? Are they clear and brought to the attention of visitors to the site?