When you’re focussing on managing your company and making it grow, it can be easy to overlook some of the basic requirements that your company must adhere to in order to be legally compliant. One of the most overlooked is the business information requirements imposed on companies. Whether you already have an established company or are thinking of starting one, it’s important that your company meets all the information requirements set out under company law. Failure to comply with these requirements may result in the company itself and every officer of the company committing an offence and being liable to a fine. Regulators in specific industries may also impose their own penalties.
For example, your company’s name must appear on all company documents, publicity and letters.
On business letters, order forms, bills of parcels, invoices, letters of credit and the company’s website, you must also show:
- your company’s registered number;
- your company’s registered office address;
- the part of the United Kingdom where the company is registered, eg England and Wales; and
- the fact that it is a limited company (usually by spelling out the company’s full name including the ‘Limited’ or ‘Ltd’).
For email correspondence, if the paper equivalent would be considered to be any of the above, the email will also have to be compliant and include the above information, for example, in the sender’s signature.
You must ensure that any additional information you want to provide is complete. For example, do you want to include directors’ names on any of the documents mentioned above? If so, you must list all the company’s directors and not just some. If you want to show your company’s share capital, which means the value of company’s shares at the time they were issued, you must also include how much of the share capital has been paid.
What if you’re an online service provider?
Legislation has been passed at both the European Union and national level to protect consumers who use services and purchase goods online.
As an online service provider, you must make sure the following information is available to the users of your services online:
- your company name and registration number;
- your company’s details, including geographical address, email address, and telephone number;
- if you are providing a service which is subject to an authorisation scheme, details of the relevant supervisory authority; and
- if you undertake an activity that is subject to value added tax, your VAT registration number.
Concluding contracts online
If you’re selling goods or providing services online, you will usually be concluding contracts electronically and additional information must be provided to customers before these contracts are entered into. Remember to clearly set out the price of the products you are selling, the delivery options and costs, and how these are calculated. Also remember to include:
- a description of the steps that need to be taken to conclude the contract;
- confirmation of how the contract can be accessed by the customer;
- a description of how the customer can identify and correct any errors before placing his or her order; and
- the languages offered for the conclusion of the contract.
If you are a member of a regulated profession, customers will need to know about this. You should include the name of the professional body with which the company is registered, your professional title and the EU member state where the title has been awarded, and a reference to the professional rules which apply to you. The simplest way to do this is through a hyperlink, or alternatively by including an explanation of how these professional rules can be accessed.
Cookie and privacy policies
Basic information and the choices available to internet users should be prominently displayed in an understandable form whenever you collect personal data. Personal data is data through which a specific individual can be identified, such as their birth date, address and bank details. This means that when a user has the possibility of opting in or out of some uses of their information, you should make sure to include this opt-out/in option on any online registration or application form, not just on your website.
Opting-out of emails
It is good practice to include an opt-out opportunity on all pieces of direct marketing, whether sent by mail, e-mail or SMS. This is not a legal requirement, but your marketing targets are likely to view you more favourably if you make it easy for them opt-out.
Finally, always remember to make sure that the information you display is clear, unambiguous, and easy to understand. Displaying information correctly will not only ensure that your company is legally compliant, but is likely to put customers at ease.
If you have any further queries regarding information requirements for companies, please contact a member of our Corporate and Commercial team who will be happy to help.
Posted on 21/02/2017 in Legal UpdatesBack to Knowledge