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What documents should a website have?

There are several documents that a website should have in order to comply with the law. They should be tailored to the website and its needs. In addition to legal compliance, a well drafted document will provide protections for the business if a dispute were to arise. Most documents are needed by all websites whilst others are more specific to the websites needs and depend upon what the website is doing. It could be advertising a service, selling a product or service, a blog, or many other things. The following is a list of documents:

  • Terms and Conditions:

These can generally be split into Terms of Use and Terms of Supply.

A website must include Terms of Use which set out the conditions on which a user can use the website. It should include certain information required by law about its operator and a way to contact the operator. Along with, the requirements for conduct on the website and the website operators right to remove content and/or access to the website. It may also include limitations on its liability, events beyond its control, rights of any third parties, and the way it aims to solve any disputes that may arise.

If the website provides social interaction or sharing of content, it should also set out the expected standards for acceptable use of its website by the end user. This can be done in addition to the terms and conditions of use or in a separate policy linked from those terms and conditions. This policy must set out the requirements for any content that is shared by the end user either on or through the website.

If the website includes a bulletin board (message board/forum) the operator should also consider including the rules which control its use.

Terms of Supply are for websites that supply goods or services. It can be good to separate terms of supply from terms of use to avoid one great big, long document which nobody wants to read. It should set out the terms and conditions that apply to the user when ordering goods/services using the website. It should conform with consumer rights and show things such as, cooling off periods, cancellations, returns, and complaints. It is also good to clearly show what actions signify both offer and acceptance.

  • Privacy Policy:

Most websites collect and process personal data and are likely to be classed as data controllers. As a data controller you have obligations under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). A privacy policy is needed to comply with the GDPR and the Data Protection Act 2018. A privacy policy informs the websites users on how it collects, uses, stores, transfers, and secures personal data through using its website and/or to provide goods and services.

The GDPR sets outs principles which must be complied with when processing personal data. These include transparency requirements which state that controllers must notify data subjects about their personal data handling practises via a privacy policy at the time data is collected.

  • Cookie Notice:

The use of cookies and similar technologies is currently regulated through the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 (PEC Regulations). Regulation 6 states that ‘website operators cannot store information or gain access to information stored in the terminal equipment of a user unless the user is provided with clear and comprehensive information about the purpose of such storage or access and has consented to it’.

When user consent is required under the PEC Regulations for the use of cookies, the consent must fulfil the validity criteria founded under the GDPR. Article 4 states that it must be a freely given, specific, informed, and unambiguous indication of the data subjects wishes by which he or she by statement or by a clear affirmative action signifies agreement. This means that a system must be applied to enable users to positively and unambiguously indicate that they consent to the use of cookies. This can be done with the use of an unchecked tick box.

The information describing cookies and their uses must be available to users before consent is gained to ensure that the consent is ‘informed’. If third parties are used, the information must provide users with the names of those third parties. This is usually done with a cookie notice alongside a privacy policy.

  • Intellectual Property Notice:

Intellectual property (IP) is a vital asset for an online business and its brand. Failing to make it clear what website users and customers can do with IP can make it difficult to protect and enforce. Traders must ensure that their own IP is protected and that they and their users do not infringe any third-party IP rights.

The main components of a website that may be eligible for copyright protection under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 are original program code (source/object code) as a literary work, original website text as literary work and original graphics as artistic works. There is also logos, trade names and product names that may be under the Trade Marks Act 1994. Some IP may come under the Registered Designs Act 1949 or the Patents Act 1977. Suitable consents and licences should be attained before incorporating any third-party material into the website. This includes photographs, writing, trade marks, software, graphics, and audio-visual material.

An IP notice informs the public that the work is protected by copyright. It identifies the copyright owner and shows the year of first publication. An IP notice can assist the owner if the work is infringed as it provides evidence of publication and can limit a claim of the defence of innocent infringement and provide evidence for the damages claim.

  • Accessibility Notice:

All types of disabilities should be considered when designing a website or mobile application. This includes blindness, visual impairment, hearing loss and cognitive or motor impairment.

The Equality Act does not specifically cover website accessibility, but it does cover the provision of services, which includes services provided by a website operator. Website operators have a duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people in the services they provide.

Website operators need to anticipate the needs of potential and actual disabled users for reasonable adjustments. The aim is to provide a service to disabled users that, as closely as possible resembles the service provided to the public at large.

A Lawdit Stay Legal package will conduct a full audit of your website to see what documents it needs. It may already have perfectly good documents and you will receive peace of mind knowing that, or maybe the documents need improvement. At Stay Legal we can draft all the documents your website needs, tailored to its needs. With a free initial consultation there is no need to delay, so book today!

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