E-commerce - legal obligations

Contracts that govern sales made via the internet should cover a number of areas.

Any terms and conditions must, of course, be relevant to the business in which the firm is engaged. But, in general, e-commerce contracts should include: a description of the items or the services that are being sold; the price of the items or the services that are being sold; how payments for those goods or services are to be made; where, when and how any goods are to be delivered; the rights of both the seller and the buyer to cancel the contract; limitation of liability; confidentiality, in the case of contracts that are sensitive in nature; and, given that internet trade can be international, an indication of the laws of which country apply to the contract.

It is important to remember that the Consumer Protection Act of 1987 and the Unfair Terms and Consumer Contracts Regulations of 1999 apply to any goods that are sold online. That is why any information provided online about the price of goods or services or facilities must not be misleading. To give misleading information is an offence.

A business should consult its legal advisers or take professional advice before drawing up terms and conditions that cover online trading.