This article will list the key issues that an e-commerce business needs to consider ensuring compliance with e-commerce laws and highlight legal risks which are specific to an e-commerce business. The list is suitable for e-commerce businesses selling to consumers or other businesses.
A website should include terms which set out the foundation on which a website is provided and may be used. These may be accompanied by a separate acceptable use policy, connecting policy and/or copyright notice.
If required, appropriate processes to obtain consent for processing personal data:
Under data protection laws, consent is one of the possible bases on which personal data may be processed. Consents need to be obtained, managed, and recorded with care.
Disclosure of information:
Certain information must be disclosed on e-commerce websites. Business to consumer websites require addition information.
Ordering processes must comply with the Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002. Business to consumer websites must also comply with the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013. Processes must ensure terms of sale/supply form binding contracts with terms incorporated. A binding contract online should include click-wrap, not browse-wrap acceptance.
Terms of sale/supply to customer:
Terms should be appropriately drafted, reflect intended allocations of risk and liability, and comply with the applicable laws. Including, unfair terms and/or consumer protection legislation.
Terms with providers of e-commerce platforms:
The following issues should be considered. Service and service levels, price/renewal terms, compliance with data protection laws, security, remedies available in the event of breach by the supplier, and termination rights.
Terms with providers of hosting or other technical services:
This includes providers that establish or operate a site. Such as, hosting services, website development, development and integration services and related software as a service or cloud solution. The arrangements with these providers need to protect the business and be appropriate to its needs.
Terms with any online platform:
The following issues should be considered. Description of the service, agency or distribution model, price/renewal terms, liabilities and responsibilities of the business, remedies for the business, protection of intellectual property, terms unlawfully restricting trade contrary to competition law, compliance with data protection, security, termination, and dispute resolution.
Terms with logistics, warehouse, and fulfilment providers:
These arrangements need to protect the business and be appropriate to its needs.
Intellectual property laws:
The business should own or have appropriate licenses’ to use all intellectual property used in connection with its website. The business should take appropriate steps to prevent its intellectual property from being misused.
Advertising promotions and price offers laws:
There are laws to comply with regarding advertisement. Promotions and price offers are also subject to specific laws. This includes advertising, pricing, and consumer protection laws.
Data Protection and privacy laws:
Substantial fines and other remedies can be enforced for failure to comply with data protection and privacy laws.
Law applicable to providers of information society services:
E-commerce businesses are likely to be providers of information society services and are therefore subject to the E-Commerce Regulations 2002.
The Geo-blocking Regulation:
The Geo-blocking Regulation covers unjustified blocking by geographical location and certain other forms of discrimination within the European Union (EU) internal market.
The Portability Regulation:
This only applies regarding business to consumer. The law ensures EU consumers can access paid for online services when they are temporarily away from home in another EU Member State.
The Network and Information Systems regulations 2018:
This law places security obligations on certain operators of essential services and certain relevant digital service providers.
E-commerce businesses must ensure that all their business activities comply with the applicable competition and anti-trust laws in same way as other businesses.
Appropriate advice should be taken regarding domestic and cross-border tax issues relating to e-commerce.
An e-commerce business must not unlawfully discriminate. This concerns the Equality Act 2010.
Communications (including direct marketing):
Any communications must comply with the E-Commerce Regulations 2002, data protection, privacy and direct marketing laws, trading disclosures and any other relevant legislation. All communication should also contain disclaimers and other notices.
Social media and user-generated content:
If these are used in connection with the website, a business should consider the risks and put in place appropriate risk mitigation.
A business should ensure any domain names used do not infringe the trade marks of any third party or constitute passing off. Appropriate steps should be taken to prevent cybersquatting and defend domains which may be needed in the future.
E-commerce brand owners potentially face challenges in tackling the sale of counterfeit goods.
A business needs to keep records to comply with certain laws already mentioned.
Appropriate technical and security measures must be taken to comply with data protection and other relevant laws.
If the business operates across borders, additional considerations will apply. Such as cross-border taxation, compliance with the relevant jurisdictions’ laws and enforceability of contracts under the relevant local laws.
As you can see there are a lot of issues an e-commerce business needs to consider. Navigating and complying with all the relevant laws associated with a business can be complex and is time consuming. At Lawdit Stay Legal we offer a one stop shop solution to take away the stress of legal compliance. Our packages at different price points offer something for everyone. We now offer a free initial consultation to discuss your website, so don’t delay and book today.