Posted: Monday, 1 March 2010 @ 14:42
According to a recent Nat West Bank Survey 82% of SMEs now use email – up from 14% in 1996. 50% of businesses now have a networked system and access to shared files and information and of the 2/3rds of businesses that have a website 20% of them take payment on-line.
All of this is great news for the IT and telecoms industry and should be great news for the businesses themselves. But beware – the improvements in efficiency, reductions in costs and increase in service levels could all be for nothing if the business doesn’t have the right policies and contracts in place to protect itself.
Let’s just take a look at what would be needed by the companies in the Nat West survey:
Email users – if your staff has access to email make sure you have a company email and internet policy.
Networked systems – setting up a network can be a very costly exercise so obviously you will want to make sure you have the correct contractual arrangements in place to protect your interests. But beyond the network itself, have you thought about software licenses you need? Going from stand-alone computers and giving all employees access to software packages may mean you are liable for new licence fees. And once you open up the network to all users and make files available to all you start to hit issues with things like data protection. How are you ensuing secure storage of your personal and client records? Are you compliant with the Data Protection Act? To find out more read Data keep it Safe!
Websites – if you have a website, even a brochure ware website, have you made sure all of the legal requirements have been met? That you’ve included a site disclaimer, covering you against any liability, that your data protection policy is clear and if you are trading on-line – that customers can easily find and print your terms and conditions and things like your returns policy.
If you are thinking of trading on line read our article How to sell on the Internet in Safety.
Yes – technology is a wonderful thing – but it doesn’t mean businesses should forget their legal responsibilities or fail to protect themselves from future problems.
Contact Cousins Business Law for advice on this topic.
Blog by Sue Mann
Sue is an experienced commercial solicitor based in Birmingham from where she helps businesses all over the country advising on, drafting, and reviewing business contracts and commercial agreements. View profile
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