As the world continues to become increasingly globalised, the opportunities for web-based business continues to grow and thrive. However, as the e-commerce sector grows, so does the regulation surrounding it. Understanding the various legal frameworks and laws with which a business needs to comply as an online retailer is vital to its success and having a specialist team of business law solicitors on hand to provide quick, cost-effective advice can be an important resource.
The Rise of Electronic Business
As the use of IT and the internet has grown, so has the regulatory framework which governs those who do business by electronic means. It is, therefore, crucial to understand the laws and regulations relating to e-commerce and the ways in which they might affect your business.
Whether your business is a start-up, SME or larger corporation, our dedicated business law solicitors can advise you on a wide range of e-commerce matters, from setting up an e-commerce company to
IT contracts, compliance with UK and EU laws (such as the distance selling regulations), website terms and conditions and acceptable use policies, software and content licensing, intellectual property rights and data protection.
At Tinsdills, we work with you and your business to help you understand the legal issues and compliance obligations connected to your e-commerce business. We know that businesses use websites for different purposes and whilst for some, it is simply a digital shop window, for others, it is a portal for online trading. Our business law solicitors will tailor your e-commerce documents to fit your business and to help you adapt and remain compliant with any changes in the law.
Whilst it may be possible to have a combined set of terms and conditions for both in-store and online sales this is likely to result in lengthy documentation which may over-face your customers. It is much clearer to have separate terms and conditions for in-store and online sales so that these can be tailored to each style of sale.
The definition of distance selling is very wide and, as technology evolves and continues to grow, its definition is likely to continue to grow too. However, distance selling is the selling of goods and/or services over a distance as opposed to over the counter or desk. The two essential elements of a distance selling contract are: (i) that the business makes regular, organised distance sales of goods and/or services; and (ii) the business and consumer only ever engage with each other through electronic communication (such as online or by telephone) and not in-person.
Distance selling includes any sales contract made without face-to-face contact between the business and its customer. Online selling, on the other hand, is simply the sale of goods or services over the internet. The definition of distance selling is therefore wider in scope than that of online selling but online selling in included within the broader definition of distance selling.
If a customer opts to ‘click and collect’ the goods they have ordered this is still likely to be considered distance selling as the contract was agreed electronically (even though the goods are collected in person). However, if a customer simply chooses to reserve goods online and then attends business premises to collect the reserved items, with no commitment to purchase them if they change their mind, this is not distance selling and the distance selling regulations will not apply. This is because the goods have not been purchased in an online transaction; they were simply reserved and then later purchased in-store.
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