Starting and then running a business is complex and challenging. From your very first day of trading, you will encounter a range of legal issues; these issues are further complicated by the ever-changing regulatory requirements and legislation that affect businesses. The challenge facing business owners is knowing when to seek legal advice from a Business Law solicitor.
We Are Business Law Specialists
At Simpkins & Co, we specialise in providing legal advice to businesses across a range of different sectors. As part of our commitment to helping small and medium-sized businesses, we are a member of The Law Society’s Lawyers For Your Business Group. Our membership of this group reaffirms our commitment to provide free initial telephone consultation to businesses seeking legal advice.
During this consultation, we will discuss your legal issue, outline the next steps and provide an estimate of the costs and likely timescale for resolving the issue in question.
In addition to this, our firm takes an active role within the local business community. As active members of the Dorset Chamber of Commerce & Industry, we are well placed to engage with and support businesses in Dorset and beyond.
When You May Need To Seek Legal Advice
Starting A Business
The early stages of starting a new business are often a stressful time. With an almost endless list of tasks to complete, seeking legal advice is not always a top priority. At such a busy time, critical issues are often missed, which can result in more complex legal issues in the future. Seeking legal advice during the early start-up stages of a company is a prudent and proactive move that can help you ensure that your business starts on a sound legal footing.
The very first legal issue facing a new business owner is choosing an appropriate legal structure for their company. There are several available legal structures available for your business, including: becoming a sole trader, incorporating a limited company or starting a limited liability partnership. The legal structure that you choose for your business has many implications on your business for the future, including on your liability as a business owner for any potential liabilities that your company may take on and on whether your company can be considered to be a separate legal entity with its own identity.
Drafting Or Entering Into Contracts
During the course of business, it is likely that you will need to draft new contracts to complete business transactions with customers and enter into business contracts with suppliers and business partners.
Contract law can be complex, but our business law experts can help you prepare and review contracts presented to you to ensure that your commercial interests are protected.
In the business context, the law system and courts assume that contracts entered into for business purposes can be considered to be commercial ventures. This means that many of the legal protections afforded to consumers are not extended to those acting in the course of business. Seeking the advice of a legal professional can help to protect your interests and resolve any contract issues before a contract becomes legally binding.
Employing staff can create a number of potential legal issues for your business. It is important that you remain compliant with employment law throughout the employment process. From the moment that you make a job advert available within the public domain, you must be compliant with all aspects of employment law. From our experience, we have found that many business owners do not realise that employment law is applicable from the very early stages of the recruitment process. Ensuring that you remain compliant from this early stage is the focus of our employment law experts, who will help you to plan ahead and do everything possible to proactively protect you from any future claims or disputes.
At the recruitment stage, the focus of employment law is on ensuring that a defined and legally compliant recruitment process is in place. A core focus of this effort is on ensuring that the Equality Act 2010 is adhered to and that the protected characteristics, namely: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation remain protected throughout the recruitment process. Following a competency-based selection framework in conjunction with a defined job description and person specification can help to ensure that decisions taken at the selection stage are purely objective and not predicated upon a characteristic or characteristics of a job applicant that may be deemed to be discriminatory.
Following the recruitment and stage of employing staff, the employment stage commences. At this stage, the focus is on ensuring that you are fulfilling your obligations as an employer to your employees. These obligations include: providing work and paying wages, maintaining a relationship of mutual trust and confidence, providing safe working conditions, providing a safe system of work and providing competent staff. It is also a legal requirement to provide a written statement of terms to each employee that outlines the terms and nature of their employment.
The final stage of employment, termination, can also be legally problematic. As an employer, there are a number of duties that you must fulfil depending on the nature of the termination. A contract of employment may be terminated in the case of redundancy, constructive dismissal or summary dismissal. In each case, we can advise you on the necessary steps to remain compliant and, where possible, avoid future employment termination related claims.
Simpkins & Co are experienced employment law specialists and members of the Employment Lawyers Association (ELA). We use our employment law expertise and experience to proactively guide and advise you through each and every stage of the employment process to ensure that you remain compliant with every aspect of employment law. Our approach to employment law will give you peace of mind that you are compliant and up-to-date with your legal obligations.
Facing A Breach Of Contract Claim
Encountering a breach of contract claim is often a stressful experience and unwelcome distraction to the day-to-day operations of your business. Our aim is to minimise the impact of the claim on your business and bring the claim to a swift resolution.
It is important to establish the nature of the breach – this will determine the likely remedy that will be sought by the claimant. The breach can be a breach of a condition (an important term of a contract) or warranty (a minor term that is ancillary to the contract). Breaches of a condition entitle the injured party to treat themselves as free of contractual obligations and to claim compensation. Whereas, a breach of a warranty term entitles the injured party to claim compensation for any loss that they have incurred as a result of the breach.
In both cases, we are well placed to defend you and your business and protect your commercial interests.
Facing A Negligence Claim
Facing a negligence claim is often stressful and it can feel quite personal, especially if you are very involved in the running of your business. As a business, you have a duty of care to suppliers, contractors and customers among others to take reasonable steps to prevent them from suffering from harm.
In such a claim, the onus is on the claimant to prove that the damage arose as a result of your breach of duty. This includes establishing a clear chain of causation, proving that the damage was reasonably foreseeable and that there are no intervening events that may raise doubts as to the cause of the damage.
Simpkins & Co are experienced in defending businesses from a range of different negligence claims and can provide you with the peace of mind that the claim against you is being dealt with in a proactive and professional manner.