Reasons to Seek Legal Advice for Your Business

Growing a business is a difficult time with many bumps in the road. You want to make sure that you have the option of finding legal advice during your time as a business owner. Whether it is during the initial startup of the business, protecting your intellectual property, drafting contracts, and settling any lawsuits that may arise, having a prepared and experienced legal professional is essential.

 

While Forming Your Business

When you are determining how to form your business, seek an advisor to benefit your business’s future. You can determine if you will run your business as a sole proprietorship, LLC, partnership, corporation, or any other business structure, a lawyer will weigh the pros and cons to what could be the best option and help properly register your company as such.

 

Protecting Your IP

Either a start-up or a seasoned business, new ideas, products, trademarks, and more intellectual property will be created. No matter how long the business has been around, you are going to want to protect your property. Finding a lawyer that focuses their practice on IP will help with technical language and legal proceedings of registering the IP for the business. When it comes to safeguarding your IP, you want to make sure you take all the right steps to ensure it’s safety.

 

While Drafts Contracts

Hiring employees, creating relationships with other businesses, and other business transaction can require contracts. You are going to want to thoroughly understand the rights and obligations of contracts you are creating and also what you are signing. Taking your contract to a legal professional can relieve you from the stress of combing through the contract with a microscope.

 

Settling Any Lawsuits

The litigation process can be timely and expensive. Though you want to take the proper preventative measures listed above to avoid any lawsuits, there may come a time when you are going to want a lawyer to help when settling these disputes.

 

It is important to be prepared for any situation to arise. When owning a business, you need to be aware of the problems that can affect your operations. Protect yourself, your business, customers, and employees by seeking legal advice from a professional.

 

**This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. In relation to your individual situation, always seek advice specific to your circumstances from a lawyer.

Common Legal Mistakes Business Owners Make: Part 2

Continuing from Common Legal Mistakes Business Owners Make: Part 1, there are still many common legal mistakes that are being made. Though entrepreneurs may think that their biggest concerns should be marketing their products or spreading the word about their brands, they should be cautious as to what legal mistakes they could be making. Many startups just want to get their businesses up and started as quickly as possible and may forget about important legal issues. Don’t let make mistakes that could be easily avoided if you would consult a lawyer before beginning.

 

Inaccurate Contracts

Businesses have many contracts. One of the most important contracts is with your vendors. If you need to purchase raw materials or outside services, you need to have a well-written contract. Lawyers can help draft your contract and provide you with the information that needs to be included. This also helps inform business owners on behaviors to avoid and what to keep their eye out for in the future. Do not enter into an agreement without a proper legally-binding contract.

 

Failure to create nondisclosure and non-compete agreements

Your company is going to have proprietary information that gives you a competitive advantage. Whether it is your customer list or an idea or formula for a new product or service, you want to make sure it is protected. Anyone who has access to this information must be legally bound to not reveal any projects your company may be working on. This will also protect your company if an employee leaves, they cannot take their clients with them.

 

Copyright, Patents, and Trademarks

Creating a business is a huge step. You built this idea from scratch and you put so much time and money into creating this company. You want to protect your name, products, and your intellectual property from being stolen. Know the specific laws on protecting the different types of intellectual property you could have. Avoid losing your business name or your blueprints for a new product.

 

You have worked hard to get to where you are at. Not having a legal professional helping you in your business endeavors could make your company’s future much harder. Take the initiative and hire a lawyer to help with business proceedings such as contracts, policies, and more.

 

**This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. In relation to your individual situation, always seek advice specific to your circumstances from a lawyer.

Common Legal Mistakes Business Owners Make: Part 1

Starting up a business is difficult. Even the most successful businesses to date have had bumps in the road. Business owners need to be aware that when creating a new entity in the business world, there is going to be red tape stopping them at almost every turn. Being prepared and having the right resources can make it easier for businesses to create success. Amongst the common mistakes that are made, many of them are legal mistakes.

 

Not Using a Lawyer

Many new businesses face the mistake of waiting too long before bringing in legal representation. They believe that they do not have similar legal obligations that established businesses have. They believe that legal issues will only come when the business scales and they have time before they have to hire a lawyer. This is a huge mistake. You want to hire a lawyer from the very beginning. This can save you massives costs down the road. If you have a lawyer right off the bat, they can help you establish your business correctly from the start.

 

Not Placing Terms and Conditions Policies

When you’re on websites, it is common for a “Terms and Conditions” checkbox to pop up. By checking this box, customers are agreeing to specific uses of your products and services and the obligations that come with being a customer. If you do not have these policies written and published, you have set yourself up for a lawsuit if a customer would choose to proceed with legal action.

 

Lack of Privacy Policy

Your privacy policy is to be public. Your customers and business partners have a right to know what you will be doing with the information they supply to you. If you are sharing your customer list, your customers have a legal right to know what is happening. The privacy policy will lay out the information it does and doesn’t share.

 

Business Tax Laws

Tax laws are complex no matter where your business is located. You should hire a legal professional to answer questions about what taxes your business is subject to, when you must file your tax returns, how often you need to make payments, and more. A lawyer can help keep your records and help file your taxes when it is required.

 

**This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. In relation to your individual situation, always seek advice specific to your circumstances from a lawyer.

Employment Laws: Employer’s Perspective Part 2

There are more to list of employment laws that are viewed as the most important. Continuing with the article Employment Laws: Employer’s Perspective: Part 1, we dive into the clauses regarding termination, dress code, remuneration, and behavior.

 

Termination

Employment can end for many unique reasons. Employees may resign or they could be terminated. There are certain rules that must be followed when terminating an employee which include a notice and their final pay. For termination, it depends on how long an employee has been with the current company. The time spent with the company and age can help determine how much in advance the notice period must be.

 

Dress code

Depending on what type of company the employee is working with, there could be a dress standard set in place. Employees will have to abide by the dress code during their employment. Not adhering to the dress code could result in probationary periods or termination  

 

Remuneration

Businesses can decide on the system they want to use to determine remuneration, as long as they comply with the laws. Payment should not be based on their race, gender, or religious affiliations. As long as employees are doing the same work, equal pay should be distributed to avoid discrimination lawsuits.

 

Behavior

Though it is an employee’s right to have a social life outside of work, companies can enforce certain behaviors outside of the workplace. With social media continuing to be a growing aspect in society, companies want to make sure their employees are representing the company culture properly. If an employee has a negative social media presence, it could affect how the company looks to consumers.

 

When drafting an employee contract, make sure to have a legal professional review or help draft it. There are many clauses that should be added in your contracts and should not be overlooked to protect the company and the employees. Having proper contracts drafted can save employers legal situations in the future and should be taken seriously.

 

**This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. In relation to your individual situation, always seek advice specific to your circumstances from a lawyer.

 

Employment Law: Employees Perspective

There are some of the strongest protections for workers when it comes to Australian employment laws. It ensures their safety from being exploited and allows them to be compensated in certain unfair situations that can arise in the workplace. When dealing with a legal matter in the workplace, it is recommended to consult a legal professional for proper and knowledgable advice. Usually, companies have their own legal team prepared for handling situations, but if an employee feels their rights have been breached, they should contact a lawyer.

 

What are employees protected from?

 

Adverse Action

Employees should not be afraid to make requests for information or the change of something within the company due to repercussions that an employer may threaten. Employers who threaten:

  • Terminating employment
  • Injury to an employment
  • Demoting employees
  • Discrimination

Unless the employee is not following the employment contract, it is unlawful to take adverse action against them.

 

For example:

If an employee feels they are not receiving the proper compensation so they request assistance from the Fair Work Ombudsman. If the employer finds out and demotes the employee, this is viewed as unlawful since the employer took adverse action against the employee.

 

Coercion

Employers do not have the right to make employees do something they do not want to do through intimidation or threats. Many of the adverse actions fall into the coercion category. The difference is that the employee did not take action first.

 

For example:

If an employee does not want to do something against their will (out of the scope of their job description) and the employer threatens to terminate the employee so they will do the task. That is coercive behavior and is counted as unlawful behavior.  

 

Misrepresentation

Employers are not able to give false information to employees. The employment contract should be available for employees to access and hold all the information employees need to know about their position. Whether it contains their annual leave, sick and carer’s leave and compensations, employers have to be forthcoming.

 

For example:

If an employee asks an employer about leave and the employer does not give the correct information to try and mislead the employee. The employer could give the employer the wrong number of weeks they get annually or for sick leave and it is considered misrepresentation.

 

As an employee, if you feel that you have lost your job for an unfair reason, feel as though you’re being coerced, or feel that your rights are being violated, seek out legal help. Determine whether or not this is a situation that can be handled with just your employer or if legal action is necessary. Even going to a lawyer for advice on the situation can help determine what actions should be taken to resolve the issue.

 

**This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. In relation to your individual situation, always seek advice specific to your circumstances from a lawyer.

 

 

Employment Laws: Employer’s Perspective Part 1

Starting a business is not an easy task. There are many legal, financial, and personal hurdles you need to overcome before launching a successful business. With legal issues, you have to not only focus on the immediate preparations but you also have to prepare for future situations. Many businesses, when they become successful, hire employees to help with the incoming waves of work. The business needs to protect themselves with clearly written contracts that help not only the business but also the employees. Whether the business is a fresh new startup or an established company, you will want to seek legal advice to draft employment contracts containing necessary clauses.

 

Restraint of trade clause

This clause will protect the employer’s interests after an employee leaves the current company. The two main types that are included are non-competition and non-clauses. It restricts employees from using confidential information and trade secrets from the previous company, working for a competitor after a certain period of time, and stealing customers or staff from their previous employer.

 

Annual Leave

This allows employees to be paid while taking time off of work. Based on ordinary work hours, full-time and part-time employees get four weeks of annual leave. Annual leave accumulates from the first day the employee is employed. Figuring out the correct way to calculate the annual leave of your employees can ensure future success if a situation comes up.

 

Sick or Carer’s Leave

Sick leave is when an employee takes paid time off because of an illness or injury. Carer’s leave is to take care of or support a family member or member of their household when they’re sick or has an unexpected emergency occur. It should be noted employees may have to give notice or even evidence of their sick or carer’s leave. Like annual leave, employees start accumulating sick and carer’s leave during the beginning of their employment.

 

Probation

Employers have the right to put their employees on a probationary period to assess if the employee is suitable for the position in the company. During the probationary period, employees will receive the same benefits as an employee not on the probation period. If an employee doesn’t pass the evaluation during the probationary period, they will receive notice when their employment will end and the accumulated annual leave hours that will be paid out.

 

**This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. In relation to your individual situation, always seek advice specific to your circumstances from a lawyer.

Industries Lawyers Have Expertise In

There has been a stigma created for lawyers by the television industry. Many lawyers depicted on television are specialist in criminal law. There is a lack of understanding of the demand in other industries legal professionals can get involved with. Law firms are in high demand for legal roles such as the following.

 

Commercial Property

Commercial property transactions typically require legal assistance. Buying or leasing commercial properties can be one of the biggest decisions that owners have to make for their business. Without proper help, the decision can have a huge negative impact on the success of the business. Commercial property lawyers can assist businesses whether they are buying or selling commercial property, preparing and reviewing leases, and handling disputes as they arise.

 

Conveyancing

Conveyance is a written document transferring real estate property or interests from one party to the next. A notary must be present and the conveyance than must be put into the Recorder of Deeds. Lawyers can provide services for both commercial and residential transactions. During the client and lawyer’s relationship, lawyers can provide pre-contractual advice, explain the legal terms, and inform the client of their rights and responsibilities involved in the contracts.

 

Employment

Representation in employment matters for either the employer’s or employee’s side could occur at any point of a business’s life. For the employer’s viewpoint, whether you are an established business or a start-up, you will need precautions set in place to protect your business. Having employment lawyers draft employment contracts ensure that necessary clauses are included such as sick leave, annual leave, probation, grounds for termination, dress standard, representation of the company, and many more. The other side is at some point while working for the company, employees may need representation. Employment lawyers can help employees protect their rights and assist in unfair situations.

 

Commercial Litigators

The demand in Australia for litigators with experience with commercial contracts is constantly increasing. Clients are looking for lawyers who can negotiate, draft and review agreements, and procurement. Skills involving insolvency and construction has been growing. Many litigation lawyers try to seek out resolutions before the disputes need to be taken to a higher court. Using techniques such as mediation, conciliation, and arbitration are the steps they take to resolve the disputes.

 

**This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. In relation to your individual situation, always seek advice specific to your circumstances from a lawyer.

 

Guardianship: The Court’s Decision Part 2

Part 1 of Guardianship: The Court’s Decision described the role and the responsibilities of a guardian. With the role being described, you may begin to wonder why a guardian would be appointed. This role is very important and should not be entered into lightly. Though it does come down to the VCAT’s decision, here is what to know about appointing guardianship to a represented person.

 

Reasons to Appoint a Guardian

The resource of a guardian is valuable for health service professionals. It gives them the ability to discharge patients who are older or incapable of decision making. The VCAT with appointing a guardian if the represented person:

  • Has a disability that affects a person’s ability to make a decision
  • Cannot make personal and lifestyle decisions in a reasonable manner
  • Needs a decision made for them and there is not an alternative, less restrictive method that helps in making a decision
  • Needs someone who will act in their best interests

The VCAT will typically choose a relative or close friend of a represented person to be their guardian. The main qualification the VCAT is looking for is that the guardian will act in the best interest of the represented person. The family members of the represented person can express their wishes to the VCAT of who they would like to be the best person appointed as a guardian. If there are no suitable or willing people to take on the role of a guardian, the Public Advocate will be appointed as guardian. This would be a last resort and the Public Advocate would be able to delegate the role to either an Advocate Guardian from the OPA or to a Community Guardian.

 

A guardian role is completely voluntary. If the guardian becomes unable or unwilling to continue as a guardian, they may resign the position. The guardian must inform the VCAT, in writing, that they no longer want the responsibility of a guardian. The VCAT can then hold another hearing to determine if the represented person still needs a guardian and if they need to appoint a new one.

 

**This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. In relation to your individual situation, always seek advice specific to your circumstances from a lawyer.

Guardianship: The Court’s Decision Part 1

If a person hasn’t acquired a power of attorney for themselves and ends up becoming disabled, they may need someone to safeguard their interests. The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal can appoint a guardian to make the decisions on behalf of the person with disabilities. The decisions made by a guardian are meant to make a positive difference in a person’s life. Guardianship could also be a possibility if there are different views on a decision that cannot be resolved about the person’s best interest. The Guardian is there to step in and help resolve any decisions that need to be made.

 

Roles and Responsibilities

The power of the guardian depends on the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal. They can either name a limited order or a plenary order. A limited order will specify the type of personal and lifestyle decisions. This can include:

  • Accommodations such as the type of housing, where it is located, or who the person will be living with
  • Employment
  • Access to services
  • Restrictions on particular people having contact with the represented person

A plenary order has the ability to make personal and lifestyle decisions as well. It also includes being responsible for making medical decisions on the person’s behalf. Neither of these guardianship types can make financial decisions for the person with a decision-making disability. As a guardian, you have responsibilities such as:

  • Acting as an advocate
  • Acting in the best interests
  • Making decisions that are least restrictive of the person you are representing
  • Taking into account the person’s wishes and make whichever wishes possible and make them into decisions
  • Encouraging the person to stay active in their community
  • Encouraging the person to make as many decisions as possible and act for themselves
  • Protecting the person from abuse, exploitation, or neglect.

The VCAT holds guardians accountable for the decisions they make on behalf of the person with a decision-making disability. The guardian can go to the VCAT or the Office of the Public Advocate for any support or advice during their time as a guardian. The VCAT also has the ability to re-assess an order. If a guardian is not doing their role and taking on their responsibilities, the VCAT can revoke their previous order.

 

The VCAT can appoint two or more people as joint guardian. If this is the case, both or all guardians must agree when making decisions on the represented persons’ behalf. If they can’t agree, the decision will not be considered valid. Part 2 of Guardianship: The Court’s Decision will describe the reasons why someone needs to be appointed a guardian.

 

**This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. In relation to your individual situation, always seek advice specific to your circumstances from a lawyer.

More Tips About Buying a Business

In my last article, I gave three tips about buying a business. Though research, buying assets, and hiring a professional are very important tips, there are more. Sales and payroll taxes, prepaid expenses, and letter of intent are some more aspects to focus on when buying a business.

 

Sales and Payroll Taxes

Asking about sales taxes and payroll taxes before buying a business can save you troubles in the future. Even if you buy a business’s assets, the state tax authority may have the ability to hold you liable if the previous owner owed sales, use, payroll, or any other business taxes. If the previous owner has other employees, you should ask if they were using a payroll service. This will give you the ability to confirm they are currently in employment tax payments. Once you get the current records, have the state tax authority issue a clearance letter proving the previous owner is up-to-date with the sales taxes by the closing date of the deal. This may extend the buying process but it will safeguard you down the road if anything happens with previous tax statements.

 

Prepaid Expenses

Expenses that the business has paid for upfront, might not be added to the purchase price. The previous owner may want to be reimbursed for the portion of the year that you will be running the business and benefiting from those prepaid expenses. These expenses can be added on at the time of closing the agreement. Ask for a seller for a list of closing adjustments which include the previous owner’s prepaid expenses. This will give you the opportunity to budget correctly and won’t be surprised at the closing of the deal. You can be prepared with all the information and it could mean you no longer want to purchase the business.

 

Letter of Intent

The letter of intent is an agreement between the buyer and the seller of the business. This agreement will lay out the important terms and conditions of the sale of the business. It typically includes the purchase price, how the business will be paid for, when the business deal will be paid for, the assets that are included with the business, the seller’s non compete agreement, and much more. Though the letter of intent is not legally binding, it is worth the time to discover any issues before lawyers begin drafting legal contracts that will make the sale a binding agreement. A letter of intent is meant to negotiate any terms and condition before legal documents are drafted and have to be redrafted. This can save the costs of legal fees.

 

**This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. In relation to your individual situation, always seek advice specific to your circumstances from a lawyer.