Four important documents every business website needs

So, you have invested time and effort to ensure that your business website looks great, is interesting and informative, and it is successful at attracting customers to your business.

However, have you made sure to include key legal documents that may not have made it to the top of your ‘to-do’ list?

Justine Harris Hughes, a solicitor in our corporate and commercial team, highlights the importance of ensuring you include these four documents on your business website, as they help your business to comply with your legal obligations.

Website privacy policy

This type of policy is used to notify visitors to your website about how you collect, use, store and transfer their personal data through use of your website. This privacy policy can also be a key tool in helping to ensure you comply with the requirements for transparency under the UK’s retained EU law version of the General Data Protection Regulation ((EU) 2016/679) (UK GDPR).  

The policy should be concise, transparent, easily accessible and in plain language. It should reflect how your specific business uses, or plans to use, the personal data you collect, detailing your own actual or anticipated personal data collection, handling and sharing practices.

Key elements will include providing information relating to:

  • The intended purpose of, and legal basis for, the processing of the personal data collected
  • The recipients of that data
  • The length of time that personal data will be stored for (or the criteria for determining the time period)
  • The legal rights of the person whose personal data it collected and stored – including their rights of access, rectification and deletion.

Special consideration should be given to any types of personal data collection or processing that may require additional disclosures or specific consents – for example, children’s data or data which falls within a ‘special category’ under the UK GDPR.

A link to the privacy notice should be clearly visible on each page of your website, and you should also refer to this privacy policy at the point the data is being collected – for example when people register for a user account.

Cookie policy

Cookies are text files placed on a browser’s computer to collect standard internet log information and visitor behaviour information. Cookies are particularly valuable to businesses selling products and services online, for example e-commerce websites use cookies to record merchandise users have placed in their shopping carts.

A cookie policy should be used on your website to provide your website users with clear and comprehensive information about your use of cookies, as required by the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) (Amendment) Regulations 2003 (SI 2003/2426) (PECR) (as amended).

As cookies can also constitute personal data, the requirements of the UK GDPR and the Data Protection Act 2018 will also be relevant.

It is important to note that the PECR applies with UK GDPR standard of consent and requires a clear affirmative action (opt-in) to the use of, storage of and access to cookies (unless an exception applies).

The consent by a user to the cookies must be active – for example, providing an ‘Agree/Reject’ button (taking care to ensure that there is no emphasis given to ‘agree’ over ‘reject’).

The information provided in your policy should include the following:

  • The cookies used
  • The purposes for which they will be used
  • The duration of the operation of cookies
  • Whether or not third parties may have access to the cookies
  • Cookies set by any third parties whose technologies are incorporated into the services provided

A link to the policy should be included both within your website privacy policy, and as a link directly on your website.

Website acceptable use policy

This type of policy is used to set out the terms on which visitors to your website are permitted to use the features of the site, detailing the rules and standards with which they must comply.

Based on these terms, you gain a platform that helps to protect your business, for example:

  • Prevents the unauthorised reproduction of material contained on the website
  • Prevents undesirable user behaviour such as hacking, introducing viruses, and uploading illegal or defamatory content
  • Allows you to remove the offending material
  • Allows you to suspend, or permanently disable, a user’s right to access the site

A website acceptable use policy can also be used to create certain contractual remedies for breach by the user of any of the standards imposed by it.

The policy should be displayed or accessible to users via a prominent hyperlink at all points on the site where the user can upload material onto the website, and to support incorporation you should consider requiring users to actively accept the terms of the policy before they use these features (see clip-wrap/browse-wrap below).

Website terms and conditions

These terms and conditions will contain provisions dealing with access to, and use of, your website, including information about:

  • You as the website owner
  • Your rights to modify or withdraw the website
  • Disclaimers for material published on it or linked to from it
  • Rules about how such materials may be used
  • Liabilities for loss and damage, and restrictions on such liabilities

The terms and conditions should be displayed or be accessible to users by means of a prominent hyperlink, on your website.

You may choose to require users to click on an acceptance button before they are permitted to view or otherwise use the site (a click-wrap) or just opt for the terms to be clearly available to read (browse-wrap).

Based at WHN’S Bury office, Justine has expertise across a range of commercial matters including general contracts, terms and conditions, distribution agreements and contractor agreements.

If you would like assistance and helpful advice to ensure that you have the correct documents on your business website and they are well-drafted to protect both you and your customers, please contact Justine on 0161 761 4611 or by email: