Once you have your website, it is not complete without addressing “the legals”.  Do not expect the web designer to do this for you, or even to raise the subject as most don’t,  maybe they would see it as straying into the remit of lawyers. But terms and conditions of use are an essential addition to any business website. You should for example, stipulate what visitors to your website are allowed to do – the terms of the licence you are actually granting to people who use the website – such as to use the website only for non-commercial purposes, and not remove any copyright markings. Examples of other matters which should be covered are ownership of the IP, notification that you do not warrant the accuracy or availability of the site or the materials and notifying visitors of limitations as to your liability with regard to such matters as links and viruses. It is also a legal requirement to include certain information about a business website owner and this is commonly included in the user terms and conditions. Additionally, having professional website terms and conditions will be a factor in visitors’ assessment of your business’s credibility.

Another ‘must’ for a business website is a privacy policy. A privacy policy outlines the website’s practice concerning the collection, storage and use of personal data. Having one on your site is a legal requirement if your site collects personal data of any sort. You should tell visitors what you are collecting information for – the purposes, if it will be passed on and if so in what circumstances. Also tell them what you will not be doing, such as  not without their express consent pass their personal information to any third parties for the purpose of direct marketing, or send it overseas to countries with less stringent data protection laws.

Also you should advise visitors of their right to request a copy of any information which you hold about them. You are protecting yourself by making all this information available to them so that their continued virtual presence equates to consent for your collection activities. Even where data is not collected, including a privacy policy on your website demonstrates that you have given consideration to your visitors privacy (and adds to the ‘professional’ image of the site). And don’t forget to register with the Information Commissioner.

Finally, if you are offering goods or services for sale electronically you will clearly need a set of terms and conditions covering essential matter such as how an order is placed, price, payment, timescales, events outwith your control and the applicable law. Further, there is a legal requirement when selling to consumers to have certain other conditions included, such as delivery details, cooling-off period, returns policy….. etc.

Nothing in this awareness article is intended as legal advice. If you have a specific legal requirement or query you should consult a solicitor directly.