Email: Legal Requirements
What’s in an email?
In business we all use email; it’s the life blood of everything we do, but are you meeting all of your legal obligations with regard to what you include in your email content?
In this short article we’ll cover the legal requirements that apply to email communications here in the UK and give references where required. Obviously we’re not lawyers, but the following will give you an overview of current requirements as at August 2011 – errors and omissions excepted!
If you require further information we recommend a visit to the Information Commissioner’s Office website.
The Companies Act 1985 requires all UK businesses (a private or public limited company, or a Limited Liability Partnership: sole traders or standard partnerships are excepted) list the following details in all business emails, as well as on your letterheads and order forms):
- your company’s registered name, such as Bloggs Ltd.
- your company registration number
- your place of registration: England & Wales or Scotland
- your registered office address
Emails must contain these details and not simply link to a section of a website with contact details. Trading Standards are responsible for any enforcement and the maximum fine for non-compliance is currently £1,000, with additional fine of up to £300 per day that may be imposed for any continuing breach.
Of course these requirements have applied to business letters for many years but this was clarified with regard to email communications on January 1st 2007 with an amendment to the Companies Act 1985 and now covered by the Companies (Trading Disclosures) Regulations 2008.
As an example, here at The Very Good Email Company we use the following footers in all email communications:
“The Very Good Email Company is a trading style of APM Internet Limited. APM Internet Limited is a limited company incorporated in England and Wales with registration number 04601087 and whose registered office is at Charter Court, Midland Road, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire HP2 5GE”
Where you have individual identities within a group of companies then individual emails should reflect the brand to which they relate. In these instances some staff dealing with multiple company names/brands should configure their email client to have multiple email templates/identities.
Email for Marketing Purposes
In addition to the elements required above, if you are sending bulk emails, such as newsletters, or product updates, you must include an opt out method within your email.
The following is from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) website:
You cannot transmit, or instigate the transmission of, any marketing by electronic mail (whether solicited or unsolicited) to any subscriber (whether corporate or individual) where:
- your identity has been disguised or concealed; or
- you have not provided a valid address to which the recipient can send an opt-out request
The above is for advice only. If you need clarification on any of these areas you should seek qualified legal advice.