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TheInternet LawCentre

Legal liability of website operators

Expert legal support for website operators

Let us help you to smoothly manage your website, online store, membership area or online discussion forum by securing all the legal stuff, terms and conditions, users' policies and GDPR.

Why do website operations may require legal support

What is the legal liability of website operators

What legal support is available for website operators

What are the most common legal risks for website operators in the UK

Why do website operations may require legal support

Depending on the type of website that you operate, there are always short-term and long-term legal liability that may arise in the near or in the distant future. As a website operator, you might be expose to legal claims that could be avoided, provided to ensure that you have in place all the legal protections that could possible put in place from the outset.

What is the legal liability of website operators

 Often, potential legal liability of website operators is obvious and apparent for any lawyer who considers a website and who understand the nature of online business that their client is carrying out. In other cases, the legal  liabilities of the website operator might not be so apparent even to a lawyer unless the lawyer is an expert and very experience in providing legal support to website operators.

The most practical way for you, as an operator of a website or an internet forum in the UK, to protect your position is to know what your rights and obligations are. Yes, there is plenty of information on the internet which you can read but much of it (we are told by our clients) is either too general or too detailed for you to be sure of your true legal position.

What legal support is available for website operators

To keep things simple but safe we invite you to call us today and to speak with one of our expert internet lawyer in a consultation dedicated to you and to your business. There are only 3 or 4 law firms in the UK which genuinely specialises in internet law and which are able to offer you a long term relationship of trust coupled with outstanding legal advice and support.

As an operator of an online forum or a review website you are likely to need to have a good understanding of your rights and obligations in relation to defamation, data protection and privacy laws. You are likely to benefit from advice on drafting the most appropriate legal documents for your website, which include privacy policies, website terms and conditions and often users’ agreements and a code of conduct for your forum.

What are the most common legal risks for website operators in the UK

The most common legal risks for website operators in the UK are in relation to law suits that involve breach of privacy, breach of GDPR and data protection laws, breach of trademarks, breach of contract and from other consumer law related matters.

We will, as a matter of course, advise you on trademarks for your online business and will carry out international trademark searches to ensure you are safe. We will check if you are compliant with data protection laws and particularly where your users’ data is stored and whether this is compliant with EU data protection laws. We will further advise on defamation, privacy and other legal issues which you are likely to encounter as an operator of an online forum or legal advice about a review website.

Most importantly, however, once we speak with you in a consultation and have an understanding of your business and your passions, you will establish a relationship with us which means we will always be there to help and support you on short notice.

  • Website operators

    Legal advice for website operators

    Legal support for website operators in the UK

    Operators of websites in the UK could find themselves liable for various wrongdoings by virtue of operating a website, publishing posts, moderating posts, advertising goods and services or collecting users’ private information. It is important for website operators in the UK to understand their potential legal liabilities and to safeguard themselves against legal claims by internet users, by competitors or by regulatory and law enforcement bodies.

    The law that governs the supply of services and the sale of goods online in the UK involves a variety of legal obligations, regulations and statutes from a number of areas of law. As your online start up business grows and develops, so will your legal and business needs, which are going to become more significant. In the event where you ever want to put your business up for sale, merger or acquisition, you will certainly want the legal foundations of your business to be solid strong and supported by an experienced legal team that will be supporting you throughout the process of growth.

    Because all of our work is focused on the law of the internet, our lawyers are perfectly placed to assist and support operators of websites in the UK with matters of compliance with contacts, website terms and conditions, trading standard matters, anti-competition law, trademarks, online marketing, promotion and advertising laws. From the point of designing your new intent business, you should speak with one of our experienced internet lawyers who will become one of your best trusted advisors throughout the creation and the operation of your internet business.

  • Legal liability of forum operators in the UK

    Legal liability of forum operators in the UK

    Are website operators in the UK responsible for comments posted on their website by third parties

  • Moderating posts on a review website

    Moderating posts on a review website

    Moderating posts on a review website. What are the requirements and what should your policy be

    There are different rules for website operators in the UK, which place more responsibility on them rather than on operators of websites in the United States.

    Can a website operator be sued for defamation

    What are the website moderation requirements in the UK

    How website operators in the UK should respond to complaints about content

    Legal support for website operators in the UK

    Can a website operator be sued for defamation

    Yes. A website operator, who operates a website which is published in the UK, can be sued for defamation in the UK in relation to posts by third party users. UK law is relatively stringent when it comes to the liability for defamation of website and forum operators. In the USA, a forum or a review website operator, whether they moderate posts or not, are, generally speaking, immune from liability. Whilst the immunity only applies to US based companies, when the same companies operate in the UK, they become the subject on English defamation law, and as a result, could be found liable for defamation in the UK in relation to third party posts. A relatively unique feature of English law, is that it assumes a world-wide jurisdiction, which means English laws may have an impact on US website operators, if they publish defamatory posts against someone who is located in the UK.

    What are the website moderation requirements in the UK

    In relation to moderating posts on a website, whilst there is no such requirement under English law, website operators are expected to act responsibly and promptly, or they may face legal liability to posts that are defamatory or that breach privacy rights or data protection laws. To moderate all comments on a high-traffic online forum is naturally a very time-consuming and perhaps unrealistic task. Consequently, taking down posts upon notification and evaluation might be adequate, although this is not necessarily a requirement for a UK based website. Some website operators choose not to proactively moderate their websites but instead relay on complaints that they receive from the website users. This, generally speaking, should be adequate and acceptable in terms of their legal requirements.

    How website operators in the UK should respond to complaints about content

    Failure to respond to complaints about content, could result in liability of the website operator to third party content. It is not an option for a website operator to prevent internet users from posting complaints as there are legal requirements for website operators to publish up-to-date contact details on their websites. As a website operator in the UK, you might want to provide a link on each page of the website, to direct internet users to process of reporting inappropriate content. Website operators’ liability to any posts by third parties may be determined by the way the website operator responds to the notification of harmful content by internet users.

    Legal support for website operators in the UK

    If you operate a website in the UK and you feel that you need to have a legal opinion in relation to your compliance with the law, or advice on what your removal policy should be, please feel free to get in touch and we will help. Our lawyers provide on the spot legal advice to put to rest concerns by website and online forum operators regarding policies and legal notices. Following initial instructions, we will be able to effectively provide you with legal advice promptly and in a cost-effective way whenever you require this guidance. 

  • Moderating a review website

    Moderating a review website
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