Running your own business is sure to present you with many unexpected legal challenges; here are 9 practical legal tips help to guide you through the potential legal minefield.
1. Make sure you get an experienced business law solicitor
There are many different types of law and solicitors who specialise in certain areas, so finding one can be a daunting task. Recommendations from other companies are a good way to start. Also check out local business or commercial solicitors on Google. Have a good look at their website –it is likely to give you a good idea of how modern and business friendly their solicitors really are.
Don’t be afraid to ask a solicitor for references or testimonials from any other companies it has worked with, and follow these up.
2. It pays to get advice early on
The amount you will pay for advice at an early stage can be substantially lower than paying for problems that will arise in the long-term. Ask for an estimate of the cost if you seek a lawyer’s advice. Some solicitors offer fixed fee for jobs like forming a company
3. Spell out your terms and conditions
Make sure that your terms and conditions are both simple and clear and that all your customers are aware of your them, otherwise you will risk being paid when they feel like it, and sometimes not at all, if they go bust. You will also need to ensure that your customers agree to these terms and that they are aware of them each time an order is placed. If you have any doubts at all as to what should be in your terms and conditions, make sure you ask your business law solicitor who will be happy to draft them for you.
4. Ensure that any agreement is in writing
Make sure that all your business contracts and agreements are confirmed in writing. If you strike an agreement verbally, get a confirmation in writing as anything that is agreed verbally is often difficult, if not impossible to put into effect, if problems arise. A written record will also prevent people from trying to change their minds or giving you a different story at a later stage
5. Don’t take risks with health and safety
By law, all businesses need to assess potential risks in the workplace – health and safety fines can be hefty and can cripple your business. Only firms with fewer than five people are not required to come up with a written statement. Your statement should address the following issues: what to do in the event of a fire and the procedure for reporting and dealing with accidents.
6. Avoid expensive mistakes – protect your intellectual property
If you have created a new product or service, do a patent search and a trade mark search to avoid possible conflict with an existing product or patent. Having to rename or relaunch your product will not enhance your reputation. If you do decide you need some intellectual property advice – this is a particular complex area and is one where you definitely need a specialist – so make sure you appoint specialist IP Solicitors.
7. Keep up to date with changes in the law
Employment law can be an absolute minefield for the uninitiated is one area that is constantly changing so it’s important that you keep up-to-date. If not make sure you have a specialist employment solicitor who will do so for you –many forward thinking solicitors these days provide very useful commercial e-mail newsletters [ like ours] – make sure you sign up to one . Don’t forget that every employer must provide all of their employees with an employment contract, clearly laying down certain details, and it can be in your interests to include policies, in a staff handbook perhapsl.
8. Keep employment contracts clear and simple
The way you word a contract of employment is also important – it needs to be as clear and easy to understand as possible. Keep the sentences short and to the point – no employer is expected to be an expert in employment law. Don’t take chances – if in doubt get good advice from specialist employment solicitors.
9. Take employment law advice and follow procedure
If you do take on staff and if you get to the stage where you have difficulties these with them, make sure that you take specialist employment lawyers on. Failing to fully the correct procedure can prove very costly.
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