Starting a business involves a lot of risk management. Despite often having a strong foundation, many businesses ultimately fail. This can sometimes be due to situations out of our control, such as the pandemic, but legal issues are another common cause.
You are able to start and run a business without any legal assistance, however, this is less than advisable. You can always gain legal advice when an unfortunate situation arises, but having a solicitor on board from the start is like having someone at your side as a preventative measure, rather than being a cure when things go wrong.
Think of it like a winter flu jab; as the weather cools it’s common for many people to get vaccinated to avoid going down with an illness later in the year. We put importance on looking after our own health, but looking after the health of our business is just as important.
Each business is different, with varying rules and practices attached to each. However, everyone can benefit from formal legal advice and representation. Here are some of the ways a solicitor can assist with the start-up of your business.
Depending on the nature of your business, you may be required to obtain certain licenses or permits, as well as register your business with the relevant authorities. Some businesses require professional qualifications or membership in a trade organisation. All of these instances can benefit from formal legal advice and representation.
Whether you’re renting or buying a commercial property, having legal assistance can help the process run smoothly. A solicitor can help you understand the terms of a lease, or assist with finalising a property purchase.
It’s common for new business owners to sign a lease agreement for a rental property without fully understanding the conditions they are signing up for. This could mean that you become responsible for all repairs, even for those that occurred before you took over the property. Enlist the help of a solicitor to ensure that you are clear on the terms of the lease and that the conditions are reasonable for your circumstances.
The business world is inundated with various deals and contracts which should be completed with due diligence. The type of contracts your business requires will depend on the nature of the company but may include contracts with suppliers or wholesalers, employment contracts, non-disclosure agreements, purchase orders and more.
Creating air-tight contracts that suit the needs of both parties is vital for a strong and successful business deal. Enlisting the support of a solicitor will help you determine the key elements that should be incorporated into each contract, reducing the risk of problems arising further down the road.
There are a range of instances where a contract will need to be referred to later, whether that’s due to an employee getting injured or a customer refusing to pay. Some smaller disputes can be resolved in-house, but larger concerns could land you in the midst of a court case. Having a solicitor on hand preemptively can provide the guidance you need to settle business disputes before they escalate too far or to support you throughout legal proceedings.
Enlisting the assistance of a solicitor can help you understand your tax obligations, as well as provide guidance on tax planning to ensure that your business is always paying what is required now and planning ahead for when the next bill is due.
You may have some money saved away to start your new venture, but it’s likely that you’ll require a loan somewhere down the line in order to finance a new aspect of your business. A solicitor can help you understand the different sources of finance, explain the terms and outline any risks involved to help you choose the right option for your business.
Intellectual property is something that you have created and legally own, most commonly through patents, copyrights and trademarks. If you have created something for your business, whether that’s a product, recipe, design or something else, a solicitor can assist you with the registration, protection and enforcement of your intellectual property rights.
Speaking in advance to a solicitor (alongside other relevant advisors, such as an accountant) is simply a wise decision. You may succeed on your own without professional help, but prevention is always better than a cure. Protect your business from the offset by enlisting legal support.
John Roberts is a Partner and Director at Austin Lafferty Solicitors. John has been with the firm for almost 20 years, with experience in all areas of business law.