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New disclosure requirements on order forms, websites and electronic communications

Companies will be required to disclose certain details on their order forms, websites and electronic communications in a change to the existing law which takes effect on 1 January 2007.

These changes are proposed as a result of the First Company Law Directive, which has to be implemented into UK law by 31 December 2006. However, with only a few working days to the end of the month the statutory instrument, which will make these changes to the Companies Act 1985, has not yet been published, leaving many businesses unaware of these provisions.  The only information available on these proposals is set out in a recent consultation document issued by the DTI.

The penalty for non-compliance is a fine, which can be levied on any officer of the company or any person who authorised the issue of the non-complying document or website.

There are 4 checks/actions which need to be made in order to comply with the additional disclosure provisions:

1.         Ensure that the company's website and order forms include the company name registered at Companies House as well as any trading name. 
2.         Ensure that the company's website includes the place of registration, registered number and registered office details of the company.  Many sites will not include this information.
3.         If the company’s details have been submitted to websites such as trade directory sites or portals and the information is under the company's control, provide the additional information to those sites.
4.         If the company sends business correspondence electronically (e.g. by email or fax), check that email templates, fax front sheets and any other electronic templates (including Blackberrys) include the required information.  This may be achieved by copying the statutory information currently on your company's letterhead into the relevant e-templates.