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October 2020
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Is your website legal?

Making websites legal

Basic information

European E-commerce Regulations require your clients to provide certain information on your website and to make it easily accessible.

There will be new rules about the way you handle cookies soon, too. Watch this space!

The site should state:

  • The name of your ISP.
  • Your email address (separately from the contact form).
  • Your company’s registered and postal address and registration number.
  • Your VAT number.
  • Details of any professional body that you belong to, plus information about the body’s membership.
    You have to stick to these rules, even if your site does not engage in e-commerce.
  • Disability Discrimination Act

    The Disability Discrimination Act says that businesses – including the media – must avoid treating disabled persons unfavourably. This covers newspaper, radio, TV and magazine websites, too.

    Web editors need to make sure their websites comply.

    1. The RNIB said in 2005: ‘A disabled person can make a claim against you if your website makes it impossible or unreasonably difficult to access information and services. If you have not made reasonable adjustments and cannot show that this failure is justified, then you may be liable under the Act, and may have to pay compensation and be ordered by a court to change your site.’
    2. The DDA does not stipulate website design standards – it leaves you to make sure your site conforms.
    3. Service providers have a duty to make adjustments before there’s a problem, not wait until someone complains.
    4. This means you should make sure:

  • Anything that makes it impossible or unreasonably difficult for a disabled person to use your site, or anything on it, is amended.
  • Any features which make it impossible or unreasonably difficult for a disabled person to use a service on the site are amended.
  • 5. In practice this means:

  • Make sure your site is built to W3C standards for good website design. That means valid html and valid css.
  • Pass Priority 1 W3C WCAG at least – see
  • Ask visually impaired people and deaf people to test the site.
  • Act quickly if someone contacts you about accessibility with your site.
  • Make sure the site is accessible for the deaf – provide scripts for video / audio downloads, and use simple language.
  • 6. There are excellent practical tips at:
    7. If you’re a business, contact forms must be answered within 24 hours.
    8. There are other rules if your site has message boards. We will look at these another time.

    Cleland Thom delivers media law training and consultancy to a number of corporation and public authorities, including GPSJ, United Utilities, World Trade Group, Herts County Council, London Borough of Brent and Three Rivers District Council.


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