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Seven Essential Documents for Any Business

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Seven Essential Documents for Any Business

We believe that every business needs a set of legal documents that set out how it operates, and to protect the business, its owners, and its employees.

We call this Business Protection.

As a minimum, there are seven legal documents that you should have in place. Yet very few businesses have the full set, and even if they do, they’re often out of date. Here’s the list – have a look down it, and ask yourself if you’ve got each of these documents, and if there have been any major changes in the business since they were drafted:

The Form Of Your Business

Are you operating as a Sole Trader (and therefore personally liable for all the business’ debts), a Limited Liability Company, a Partnership (in which you’re also liable for the business debts run up by your business partners), a Limited Liability Partnership or one of the many different structures used by not-for-profit firms? Is the legal structure of your business still appropriate?

Shareholders’ / Partnership Agreements

No-one starts a business with the intention of falling out, but life has a habit of upsetting applecarts. Business partners find they want different things, people get divorced, and people die or suffer life-changing illnesses. Agreeing what will happen up front makes these problems a whole lot easier to resolve from the business perspective. This is a very important document for business owners.

Contracts of Employment and Directors Service Contracts

At their simplest, these document the rights, responsibilities and duties of the employees and directors. They don’t actually have to be in writing (but problems with verbal contracts can be expensive), though employees are entitled to a written statement of their main employment terms.

Terms and Conditions of Business

This is the foundation of your contract with your customers. It defines the nature of the work, how much and when you’ll be paid, and can also be used to limit your liability. This last point is especially important for Sole Traders or Partnerships.

Website Terms Of Usage

You need this to make clear what your website is, and what it isn’t. Even if you don’t sell through your site, you still need to exclude yourself, other directors or staff from being bound by offers that seem to be made on the website.

Commercial Leases

Leases can be full of pitfalls, exclusions, and commitments to make expensive repairs for which you can suddenly find yourself liable. Promise that you’ll NEVER EVER sign a lease without first getting it checked by a commercial lawyer, who explains in plain English what you’re committing to or advise against proceeing!

Patents, Trademarks and Copyrights

Whatever business you’re in, you trade on intellectual property. You need an appropriate level of protection for this, to make sure no-one else can trade on your hard work.
Have a look down that list, and ask yourself if you’ve got each item covered.

If there are gaps, you do need to make a commitment to deal with them, to ensure you and your business are as protected as possible.

Get in touch...

If you have any queries about the above or feel your business needs protecting, don’t hesitate and let us see what we can do for you.
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As featured in North East Coastal Life magazine

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