Operating an ecommerce platform in the UK - the rules and regulations

When operating an e-commerce platform in the UK, there are certain rules and regulations that must be complied with. This guidance note provides a high level summary of the key principles

26 June 2019
Hands holding plastic credit card and using laptop. Online shopping concept.

Operating a UK Website

Operators of websites must include certain information at specific places on a website or as part of the customer journey, such as company information (e.g. a merchant’s name and registration number), clear pricing, the technical steps required for customers to conclude online contracts and contact details for complaints.

You should also have website Terms of Use or an Acceptable Use policy which are available for users to access on the website. You will need to have terms and conditions relevant to sales of goods or services and policies to ensure compliance with data protection rules (e.g. cookies policy and privacy policy) (see further below).

Sales to Consumers and Businesses in the UK Online

There are specific rules controlling how goods are sold through websites in the UK.

B2C transactions are far more stringently controlled than B2B sales, but unless sellers wish to have completely separate sales structures for B2C and B2B interactions, you will need to ensure that you comply with the consumer sales rules for all customers.

Some of the most important things to note are that consumers have a right to cancel their online contracts during a ‘cooling off’ period of 14 days in most cases; there are certain terms in sales contracts which cannot be excluded; and terms which will be deemed to be automatically unfair if you include them in your terms.

This means that certain terms and conditions can be deemed to be added in to terms and conditions, or may be “struck-out” on the basis that they are unenforceable.

Privacy and Data Protection

There are complex rules governing the use and management of personal data collected by companies offering goods or services in the UK and failure to comply with the data protection laws may result in large fines.

Advertising and Promotions in the UK

Advertising and promotion of your products or services in the UK must comply with relevant rules. There are also specific rules relevant to running product or services campaigns with endorsements from celebrities or social media influencers.

Other

Depending on the products or services sold through your website, there may be other sector specific rules and regulations that you will need to comply with, ranging from environmental and energy legislation to rules specific to the financial services sector.

For more information about how Burges Salmon can help, please contact Helen Scott-Lawler.

Key contact

Helen Scott-Lawler

Helen Scott-Lawler Partner

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