The law requires that certain information appears on your website. Section 43(1) of the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act (ECT Act) is the relevant legislation. Very few websites comply with this section despite it being applicable to most web sites. Section 43(1) begins:
“A supplier offering goods or services for sale, for hire or for exchange by way of an electronic transaction must make the following information available to consumers on the website where such goods or services are offered:”
So it applies to virtual everyone. It includes a supplier of goods or services. An important phrase of the section is [private]that of an “electronic transaction” – the phrase is not itself defined. The definition of a transaction is very broad and includes “a transaction of either commercial or noncommercial nature and includes the provision of information and e- government services“. Electronic transactions include not only transactions conducted via a website but also transactions concluded by e-mail and SMS. Also refer to the definition of a consumer – it is restricted to a natural person acting as an end-user. Therefore not everyone has to comply with section 43, but most people do.
So, if you:
- provide good or services,
- have a related website (that includes a shopping cart facility or not),
- supply natural persons, and
- conclude any part of the transaction with your customer via the website or by email or SMS,
you need to comply with section 43(1). If you are not sure, it is safer to comply – it is good for business anyway because it gives your customer confidence in you.
You should ensure that all information specified in section 43(1) is available on your website. Much of this information should be included in your legal notices. Some of this information however does not belong in the legal notices – you must ensure that all of this information is included somewhere on your website.
Something to bear in mind is that this section may (in the not too distant future) be replaced by the Consumer Protection Bill.