Selling online and the law

E-commerce Regulations

The 2002 E-commerce Regulations apply to businesses that:

  • sell goods or services to businesses or consumers on the internet, or by email or Short Message Service (SMS), ie text messages
  • advertise on the internet, or by email or SMS
  • convey or store electronic content for customers, or provide access to a communications network

They do not cover direct marketing by phone or fax.

Your e-commerce legal duties

The regulations specify information you must give to customers when you sell online. Before a sale takes place, you must make clear the steps required to place an order. When a customer places an order, you must acknowledge their order without delay, eg by automated email. See provide consumers with contract information.

The regulations also provide guidelines on advertising and promotions. 'Commercial communications' must:

  • be clearly recognisable as such
  • say who they are from
  • clearly identify promotional offers and any conditions

The regulations also cover 'unsolicited commercial communications', commonly referred to as spam. See email marketing and privacy law.