All you want to know is what company details to put on your website. Tedious and necessary but it should be simple, right? This was supposed to be a short blog post to cover “frequently asked questions” but turned into something longer, as the information is spread over multiple (overlapping) legal provisions. Here we only cover the requirements for companies and not for sole traders or partnerships. Also, very specialist and regulated areas such as pharmaceuticals, toys etc. will have specific additional requirements.
Eden Legal’s normal style is to translate and adapt legal provisions into plain English. In this case, however, the most practical approach seems to be to reproduce them here mostly in full as a reference guide.
A. For all companies
On all companies’ websites the following needs to appear:
1. its registered name
2. the part of the UK in which the company is registered (England etc.)
3. the company’s registered number, and
4. the address of the company’s registered office.
(For companies not needing to use the word “limited”, community interest companies and investment companies, there are some special requirements).
(See: The Company, Limited Liability Partnership and Business (Names and Trading Disclosures) Regulations 2015)
Here’s an interesting thing: under the Regulations a company’s website includes “a reference to any part of a website relating to that company which that company has caused or authorised to appear”. So for us that means that this information should also be disclosed on the company’s Linkedin, Google+ or Facebook page.
B. For “information society” (online) services providers
In the company is an “information society services provider” (“any service normally provided for remuneration, at a distance, by electronic means and at the individual request of a recipient of services” – probably enough for a whole separate article but the essential intention seems clear – though note that advertising-funded sites or services would often be covered by this) then there are some additional items to include:
4. the geographic address at which the service provider is established (if different from the registered address)
5. working contact details, including an email address
6. details of any public register where registered (which might simply be companies house)
6A. details of any supervisory body (e.g. FSA) if applicable
6B. details of professional registration if applicable, and
7. VAT number (if registered)
(See: The Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002)
Something to consider: for services that could potentially fall between categories e.g. messaging or voice services that could be considered electronic communications services or information society services, there is a possibility to “self-declare” here. By saying “X Limited is a provider of information society services registered in Etc.” and complying with those rules we – obviously not conclusively and clearly not in cut-and-dried cases – lay a small but potentially important trail in the direction we want to go. A consistent interpretation is often better than saying nothing and leaving the door open for the regulator to make the interpretation.
C. Providers of services in general
Providers of services in general need to provide a similar but not identical list of information to recipients of services. There is also a separate list information that must be supplied on request but the basic list is:
4-5. contact details for complaints: a postal address, fax number or e-mail address, a telephone number, and where the service provider has an official address (legal address for notifications), that address
4-5. general details: the provider’s name; the provider’s legal status and form; the geographic address at which the provider is established and details by which the provider may be contacted rapidly and communicated with directly (including by electronic means)
6. where the provider is registered in a trade or other similar public register, the name of the register and the provider’s registration number or equivalent means of identification in that register
6A. where the activity is subject to an authorisation scheme in the United Kingdom, the particulars of the relevant competent authority (or its electronic point of contact)
6A. where the activity is subject in another EEA state to a scheme equivalent to an authorisation scheme, the particulars of the authority involved or the single point of contact in that state
7. VAT number (if registered)
8. where the provider is carrying on a regulated profession, any professional body or similar institution with which the provider is registered, the professional title and the EEA state in which that title has been granted
9. the general terms and conditions, if any, used by the provider
10. the existence of contractual terms, if any, used by the provider concerning the competent courts or the law applicable to the contract
11. the existence of any after-sales guarantee not imposed by law
12. the price of the service, where a price is pre-determined by the provider for a given type of service
13. the main features of the service, if not already apparent from the context
14. where the provider is subject to a requirement to hold any professional liability insurance or guarantee, information about the insurance or guarantee and in particular the contact details of the insurer or guarantor, and the territorial coverage of the insurance or guarantee.
(See: The Provision of Services Regulations 2009)
This does not need to be done on the provider’s website but often will be – and probably should be. This can be done in website terms and conditions or under a separate link (e.g. “About Us”, or something similar to an “Impressum” in Germany or “Aviso Legal” in Spain). For regulated businesses, it seems more appropriate to include the details on a separate page. There is a practice to state “This information is supplied in accordance with The Provision of Services Regulations 2009” or similar and this can be useful for being seen to comply. However, for most businesses where the information reguired is covered by items 1 to 5 (plus 7) above then this can happily live in the website terms and conditions. Note also items 9 and 10 – which indicate that any standard terms and conditions of services (and not just website use) should also be made generally available, and not just at the moment of contracting or “upon request”.
That’s enough for now. If you found this helpful then you’ll probably want to know the similar rules for email and stationery. We’ll leave that for another article.