Does your business stationery & website comply with UK legal guidelines?

Derek Green Thursday, January 05, 2017

At [gawr-juhs] we specialises in working with start-up organisations. I'm always surprised, when the owners of new businesses say that they didn’t realise they were legally required to show specific information about their company on their website and printed stationery. 

The UK government provide clear guidelines for what businesses should display. This information is often included in documents produced by enterprise agencies, banks and the Inland Revenue, that are specifically written for new businesses. For swiftness, I'll summarise what they are:

Stationery and promotional material

You must include your company’s name on all company documents, publicity and letters.

On business correspondence, order forms and websites, you must show:

  • – the company’s registered number

  • – its registered office address

  • – where the company is registered (England & Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland)

  • – the fact that it’s a limited company (usually by spelling out the company’s full name including ‘Limited’ or ‘Ltd’)

If you want to include the names of directors you may do so, but you must list all of them.

Graphic of blue copyright symbol on dark background with other characters in the background

Invoices

There are slightly different legal requirements of information to display on business invoices, these are:

Clearly display the word ‘invoice’ on the document, and you must include:

  • – a unique identification number

  • – your company name, address and contact information

  • – the company name and address of the customer you are invoicing

  • – a clear description of what you are charging the customer for

  • – the date the goods or service were provided (supply date)

  • – the date of the invoice

  • – the amount(s) being charged

  • – VAT amount if applicable

  • – the total amount owed.

Sole Trader Invoices

If you are a sole trader, the invoice must also include:

  • – your name and any business name being used

  • – an address where any legal documents can be delivered to you if you are using a business name.

Limited company invoices

If your company is a limited company, then you must include the full company name as it appears on the certificate of incorporation.

If you decide to put names of your directors on your invoices, you must include the names of all directors.

More information about these subjects can be found on the UK Government’s website. 

Website considerations

Regardless of last year's EU referendum result, the United Kingdom is still currently part of the European Union. Until that situation changes legally, UK businesses must continue to follow European laws and conventions. 

In addition to the UK requirements listed above, websites should also provide new visitors with a clear message that shows a site uses Cookies to enhance user-experience and/or to track user preferences etc. If you don’t have one of these EU Cookie Law notices, then I would encourage you to consider adding one to comply with current legislation. A great site I use to do this is Silktide. It's a free and open source cookie widget that is easy to customise and implement.

January is also a good time to ensure that the copyright notice, usually found in the in the footer of your website is also up-to-date. The use of this notice informs the public that your site, and its content, are all protected by copyright; it identifies the copyright owner; and shows the year of first publication. As websites are every evolving and content is constantly being updated, it is quite common to see two dates in a copyright notice. The first refers to the year the item, in this case a website, was originally published. The second is usually the current year, so that new content is indicated as also being copyright protected.

So why not begin this new year but doing a quick design audit on your current business stationery and website. Have a look and see if they adhere completely with the guidelines above. If they do, fantastic! If they don’t, then now is the time to amend them so that they do. If [gawr-juhs] can be of assistance in that process, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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