Create an online shop

The law and selling online

If you are selling online, there are a number of pieces of legislation you need to be familiar with. These are designed to ensure customers' personal data is kept secure, goods and services meet quality and suitability standards and online contracts are legally binding.

The Data Protection Act regulates how you use and protect personal information held about living people, eg in customer records. The Act affects information that you have on computer as well as some paper-based records. To comply with the rules you need to follow the eight data protection principles.

The Consumer Contracts Regulations require you to give your customers specified information before they place an order. You are also required to send the buyer an order confirmation and give them a 'cooling off period' in which they can cancel their purchase if they wish.

The E-commerce Regulations are designed to ensure online contracts are legally binding. They specify what information about your business and contract you must share with online customers and sets out guidelines for advertising and promotions. Read more about selling online and the law.

If your business is a limited company or limited liability partnership (LLP), under the terms of the Companies Act 2006, your website must show:

  • the full name of the company or LLP
  • the registered office address of the company or LLP
  • the registered number of the company or LLP
  • the place of registration of the company or LLP
  • if the company is being wound up
  • the VAT number (if VAT registered)
  • membership details of any trade or professional association