Could your website cost you a £1000 fine or worse?

14
Dec

Imagine you are with your web designer discussing the final layout and content of your new website and you are just about to go live. The last thought in your mind would be to involve your lawyer in that process!

Surprisingly, few Directors are aware of the fact that all limited companies are obliged, by law, to include certain minimum statutory information in their websites.

The boringly named “Companies (Trading Disclosures) Regulations” came into force in October 2008 with minimum fanfare. The clear intention was to impose the same obligations for limited company websites as have existed for some time in relation to limited company stationery.

If you are a limited liability company and have a website then you must include the following minimum information:-

  • The full name of the company
  • Its registered office
  • Its place of incorporation e.g. “Registered in England”
  • Its company registration number

There is no obligation to name the Directors of your company but if you decide to do so, all of them must be named.

Whilst most, if not all, companies take care with their company headed paper, a random sample of websites revealed that over 65% were in breach of the regulations which provide for a penalty of up to £1000 ( with a daily fine of £100 for continuing contravention) that can be imposed on the company and any Director who is in default!

The same provisions apply to “business emails”.

What is a “business” email?

Rather than try and decide each time you send an email, the sensible approach is to include an “email signature” which contains the minimum legal information so that this is generated each time you compose a new email.

If you are totally sure that it is not a “business” email, then the signature can easily be deleted.

Merely naming one of several directors within the body of an email or by means of signature to an email is not a problem.

Non-compliance could also lead to situations where individuals (as opposed to the Company) are held liable for certain acts. Imagine you place an order by email for £5000 worth of goods from a supplier and that email does not have the minimum statutory information. The likelihood is that the supplier will show the wrong customer details on his VAT invoice which may make it difficult to reclaim the VAT on the invoice and, more importantly, should payment not be forthcoming; the supplier could have the right to enforce payment of £5000 from the author of the email rather than the company behind it.
Exactly the same principle applies in your dealings with customers.

As mentioned, these requirements are the minimum prescribed by law and, as with your hard copy stationery, do not prevent you from including other marketing information such as your company logo, contact details and URL.

Your trading name can still be the main focus of your website, as long as the minimum statutory information is included. Your web designer will be able to best advise on the format and layout so that the impact, marketing or other benefits of your website are not, in any way, lessened.

Source: Brian Scott at Max Montague Limited
www.maxmontague.com

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