eBusiness & Legal Considerations

Source Enterprise Ireland How To Guide

At the outset it is important to point out that this Basic Guide does not constitute legal advice and is provided for information purposes only. This Guide highlights some of the basic legal consideration in relation to eBusiness.

  • You are legally obliged to ensure that you have the appropriate licences for the software that is installed on your system.
  • Ensure that you back up all essential data and keep the back up data in a safe location, preferably off site.
  • If you commission software development, be sure you correctly address the issue of who owns the copyright in the software.
  • Your website makes you globally accessible; do not trade in a country where the underlying transaction is illegal according to local law and be careful about trading in countries where the local laws could impose conditions that are unfavourable to you.
  • A domain name does not afford the same level of protection as a trademark. Trademarks can be registered in Ireland or throughout the EU by means of a single application. Remember, an Irish registered trademark does not entitle you as of right to use that trademark abroad.
  • In terms of customers using your website, be clear about the point at which a binding contract is entered into. Acceptance by the customer of your terms and conditions should be recorded in a manner that can be later accessed and understood.
  • Provide consumers with the necessary information on your website that they are legally entitled to before they place their order and remember that you must perform the contract within 30 days (unless otherwise agreed). If you do not the consumer can demand his/her money back.
  • The following "prior information" must be furnished to the customer to be able to enforce a contract; your identity, the delivery costs, the characteristics of the goods or services, the period the prices remain valid and any extra charges that may apply, before the contract is made.
  • Your customer then has a period of 7 working days to cancel the contract with you without giving a reason. If you fail to provide the necessary "prior information" the 7 working day cooling off period is extended to 3 months.
  • Legally unsolicited email communication (spam) must be clearly identified as such, preferably in the subject line of the email. If you use email for that purpose you must be identifiable and you must allow recipients to opt out from further communication.
  • Under Data Protection legislation, you need to keep certain personal information safe and secure. You may also have to register with the Data Commissioners office. Check out www.dataprivacy.ie
  • Customers in other EU member states that buy from a business based in Ireland can choose between suing the business either in Ireland or in their home state. They can then seek to enforce any judgement obtained against you through the Irish courts.
  • Irish businesses may only sue customers based in the EU, in their home state.
  • If you do not provide formal guidelines and apply these, individual employees can use ICT with potentially serious consequences for you, such as:
    • Unforeseen contractual commitments.
    • Defamation.
    • Bullying and harassment.
    • Cybercrime.
    • Breach of third party copyright.
    • Breach of Data Protection legislation.