Businesses need legal advice for many reasons. Whether you are employing people, signing contracts or dealing with a dispute, good legal advice can help you achieve your goals and protect your interests.
When looking for a legal adviser, understanding your specific legal needs can help you make a more informed decision.
Our guide can help you find out more about key legal issues affecting business owners in areas such as:
Whatever the size of your company, employing people puts ongoing demands on a business.
For smaller employers in particular, the challenges of meeting your employment law responsibilities can be made more difficult if you don’t have somebody in your company who can handle people matters in a way that manages legal risk for the business.
Employment law falls into two main areas. Non-contentious employment law, where you are looking at putting things in place to ensure your employees’ rights are being met throughout the employee lifecycle and to minimise the risk of disputes happening.
There is also contentious employment law work, relating to disputes. How workplace issues are managed is often the difference between achieving a quick and effective resolution and escalating into something costly and time-consuming to settle.
Setting up a business
How you structure a new business will affect a number of things, including how it will need to be set up and whether Companies House registration is required.
Taking advice can help you understand the pros and cons of the different types of business structure, from a sole trader to limited company or partnership. This should include considerations of how the business will have to be managed and what responsibilities there will be for accounting and reporting, as well as when closing the business.
Where you decide to operate from will have implications across a number of legal areas. Whether you are renting premises, buying commercial property or working from home, it’s best to take advice and avoid any unexpected issues about your choice of work location. Some common areas of legal risk include business rates, health & safety, property insurance and use of CCTV.
Property legal issues may also arise when you make changes to your business, such as opening a new branch or moving premises, going from renting to buying or even changing the type of activity you carry out or the products or services you sell from the premises.
Trading in the UK and overseas
Trading activities are heavily regulated, meaning there is a lot for businesses to prepare for when first setting up and to deal with on an ongoing basis in the usual course of business.
Whether you are importing, exporting or both, there will be the basics of trading law to get to grips with, from varying trading standards and consumer rights and competition laws within different countries to securing IP protection and resolving consumer and commercial disputes and non-payment issues.
Dealing with, and paying, tax is an unavoidable part of running a business.
Businesses need to be aware of their liabilities, responsibilities (such as record keeping) and the key deadlines to avoid fines and issues with HMRC.
Your tax situation will depend largely on the business’ legal structure, for example, whether you are a sole trader or if the business is a limited company, and if the business is VAT registered. If you employ people, you will also be required to comply with PAYE and NI rules.
It will be worth researching or taking advice on whether your business qualifies for any form of tax allowance, relief or incentive which may help to bring your tax liability down.
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