What legal information do you need on your website? (A 5-step checklist for UK companies)

After spending countless hours designing your website, crafting compelling content, and optimising its functionality, there's still one crucial aspect that often gets overlooked; legal compliance. As a website owner, it's your responsibility to ensure that your website meets all relevant legal requirements.

If you're unsure about what information needs to be included on your website, keep reading! In this blog, we'll provide you with a 5-step checklist to help you to ensure your website has the correct information and data protection documents, as without these, you won't be compliant with UK laws. While it's not an exhaustive list of legal requirements across all industries, this blog provides a helpful guide for business owners looking to take the necessary steps to bring their website in line with UK company and data protection laws.

Let's dive in and explore the essential information needed on your website to help protect your business and also your customers.

1. Company Information

If you run a business in the UK, it's important to include certain information on your website. If this information isn't set out somewhere on your site, you'll be in breach of UK company law.

You don't need to include this information on every page, but it should be easy to find. The most common places are on pages like "Contact Us" or "About Us". You can also add it to your website's footer, which can help your visitors find it easily and also improve your search engine optimisation.

Registered companies

If you're a registered company, it's crucial to have all the necessary corporate information displayed on your website. This information includes your:

-       Company name;

-       Registered number;

-       Place of registration (e.g. England and Wales);

-       Registered office address;

-       Postal address (if it’s different from your registered office);

-       Email address;

-       Contact details by non-electronic means (i.e. by phone or mail);

-       VAT registration number (if your company is registered for VAT); and

-       Relevant trade bodies or regulatory authorities (if applicable) (e.g. the FCA).

Unregistered companies

If you’re not a registered company, you should still as a minimum set out your:

-       Business name - If you’re a sole trader and you use a business name that is different to your actual name, you must provide both;

-       Trading address;

-       Business email and phone number; and

-       VAT registration number (if applicable).

So now you have the company information that you need on your website covered, what legal documents should also be on your website?

2. Privacy Notice

Data protection is a crucial aspect of running a business. If your business collects, stores, or sends personal data, it is essential to ensure that you comply with UK data protection laws. As personal data is defined as any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person, such as a name, address, email address, or any other identifiable information, it is highly likely that your business collects such data in some way. Adding a privacy notice (also known as a privacy policy) to your website is therefore one of the most important steps to take to ensure that you are UK GDPR compliant.

What is a privacy notice?

When it comes to personal data on your website, a privacy notice will explain what personal data your business collects, what you intend to use personal data for, and the rights of individuals in relation to their personal data. It must clearly state whether the data is kept private or shared with third parties, how it is stored, and what measures you take to protect it. A privacy policy is key to forming a transparent relationship between a business and its clients, building trust along the way.

Does a privacy policy need to be specific to your business?

Yes, your privacy notice should be tailored to provide details of the types of personal information that your business collects and how you use that information. If you want to create a speedy privacy notice that complies with UK data protection laws, check out our lawyer-made website privacy notice template.

3. Cookie Notice

Almost every company's website uses cookies to operate. Not a batch of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies - we’re talking about the kind of cookies that you agree to when you’re surfing through web pages. If your website collects data from users through cookies, then you’ll need a cookie notice (also known as a cookie policy) to ensure you’re compliant with UK data protection laws. You will also need to ensure that you have each user’s consent to use cookies.  

What are cookies?

Cookies are tiny data files that are placed on a website visitor’s computer or mobile device when they visit a website. They store information about visits, such as the user’s preferred language and particular products or pages that they view. Cookies are used to remember a user’s preferences and login details (username and password), to prevent the need to re-enter this every time you visit the webpage. They also can help to target ads specifically for users and provide better content. 

What’s a cookie notice?

A cookie notice is a document that lists the cookies used on a website and gives detailed information about each type of cookie. It lets users know how the cookies track data, what data the cookie will track and where their data is being sent. While cookies help to provide a more personalised web-browsing experience for users; cookies are also a very helpful tool for website owners to analyse activity and gather data about users’ behaviour online.

If you’re worried that you might miss important details, Docue’s cookie notice template will prompt you to input all the relevant information relating to your website cookies with handy guidance notes to help you along the way.

4. Website terms of use

If you’ve put a lot of time and effort into building your website, you’ll want to ensure your website visitors use it as you intended. Although it's not strictly necessary, it's a good idea to set out the terms of your website. This document will explain how people can use the information on your site, who owns the intellectual property of the content on the website, and what your company isn't responsible for (known as limitations of liability).

What should be included in the website terms of use?

Do’s and don’ts: The terms should include information about your business (as the website owner), details of how information can be accessed on the site and most importantly, the rules and restrictions for users when using your site. 

Use and ownership of IP: The intellectual property rights section will let users know that you own the content and IP on your site to protect them from being copied without your permission. For more information about the different types of IP rights, check out our intellectual property rights: A complete guide for businesses blog.

Liability, law and complaints: The terms of use will also clearly set out who is liable for what, how the user can complain, and the laws that govern the relationship.

Whilst your services contract with your customers will cover the terms to supply your services and/or goods, your website terms of use outlines the rules with visitors about how users can access and use your website. These terms are legally binding and aim to protect your website by clearly setting out your rights and obligations, as well as those of your visitors. By making these rules available to visitors, your website terms of use can help you to avoid legal disputes later down the line.

It's important to note that some specific industries, such as e-commerce or financial services, may require a company's website to have certain terms and conditions in place to ensure they are compliant with industry-specific regulations.

5. Website legal notices

In addition to your terms of use which clarify how users can access your website, it’s also important to set out any important warnings, statements or notices on your website that you intend to have a binding legal effect on your website visitors and (potential or existing) customers. This information can be set out in your website legal notices (also known as website disclaimers). 

This document works alongside your terms of use, as it dictates what types of liability are excluded in relation to the use and access of your website. 

What should be included in website legal notices? 

This can include your rights to modify the site or take it down altogether, or disclaimers regarding information published on your website. For example, your website may contain information about legal subjects, but if your company is not a regulated law firm, you will want to ensure your company disclaims any liability for reliance on that information by a user, by saying “in giving you access to this information through this website, we do not give legal advice”. 

To protect your business and customise your website documents specifically for your site, check out Docue's dynamic website terms of use and website legal notice templates. With Docue's super-smart contract creation technology, you can save time and money by accessing our lawyer-drafted templates without the need for expensive legal fees or lengthy consultations with lawyers.

Modern slavery statement

Finally, if your business has a global turnover of £36 million or more, then you're required to publish a statement about your company's efforts to prevent slavery and human trafficking. You must include this statement on your website and make it easy for people to find by putting a link to it on your homepage.

In conclusion, it's important to take the necessary steps to ensure your website is compliant with UK laws. Without the correct corporate information on your website, and data privacy documents in place, you will be in breach of UK company and data protection laws. However, having the correct legal information and documents on your website can help protect your business from potential legal issues and disputes in the future. Additionally, providing your customers with clear and transparent information on your website helps to build trust and credibility, which is crucial for any successful business. So take the time to review your website and make any necessary updates to ensure that you are in compliance with the law.

How can Docue help when it comes to your website?

Ultra-modern contract technology: Sign up with Docue today and have full access to our website privacy notice, cookie notice, website terms of use, website legal notice templates, along with e-signatures and secure storage for all your contracts.

Lawyer-grade templates: At Docue, we’ve worked hard to provide over 100 accessible and affordable templates. Each document contains helpful information boxes created by qualified lawyers to guide you through the process at the click of a button.

Easy-to-use: Docue was created with business owners in mind. It's user-friendly and efficient, making it easy for users to create high-quality legal documents without the need for extensive legal knowledge. Get started today and give your business the legal protection it needs with Docue.