Law

Our legal category looks at the business codes of practice, laws and regulations that affect small and medium businesses to help you ensure your company meets all the necessary legal requirements for running a small enterprise.

Employment Law: The Basics

Employment Law: The Basics

If you run a business with staff, you need to know your employment law – it’s that simple. Keeping in touch with developments and developing smart policies in line with the law may seem tedious, but failing to do so can be disastrous for your business. In this article, you will find a helpful run-down of the basics of employment law in all the areas you will run into it as a business, and what to do when things go wrong. What should I be aware of when looking for staff? At the interview and selection stage, you must take care to avoid letting prejudice affect your decisions. Discrimination is illegal on the grounds of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership (marital status), pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. When int... »

A Guide to the Employment Tribunal Process

A Guide to the Employment Tribunal Process

It is a sad fact of business life that disputes between employees and employers are common. The majority of these disputes will play out at an employment tribunal. Even if you consider your relationship with your employees to be a harmonious one, and consider the likelihood of disputes to be low, it still pays to have a considered strategy for dealing with tribunals. Employment law is increasingly developing in favour of the needs of employees and with awards increasing, being unprepared for tribunals can see you losing out massively. A well-thought out plan will allow you to prepare and present the best possible defence of your actions, and prevent disgruntled employees from taking you to the cleaners. Here we cover the stages of the tribunal process, how to defend a case and prevent a di... »

Health and Safety Law: How to Carry Out a Risk Assessment for Your Business

Health and Safety Law: How to Carry Out a Risk Assessment for Your Business

If you are a business dealing with health and safety law for the first time, you will see the mysterious phrase ‘risk assessment’ pop up a lot. You will know that, as an employer, you must carry out a risk assessment in order to comply with the law – but does this just mean a cursory glance around the office looking for obvious dangers, or a forensic examination of all the fixtures and fittings? In this article, we cover all you need to know about carrying out a risk assessment as a business, along with practical tips to ensure you stay on the right side of the law. Identifying health and safety hazards in business A ‘hazard’ is anything that has the potential to harm someone. It isn’t just limited to the obvious things like heavy machinery or dangerous chemicals – even things such as kett... »

The Top 7 Legal Steps to Employing Staff

The Top 7 Legal Steps to Employing Staff

For many small or medium-sized business, navigating around employment legislation can seem rather daunting as of all the branches of law, it’s the one that seems to change every time a bell strikes. However, as a small business owner, getting it wrong can result in you finding yourself facing a claim that may have costly implications – both financially and for your business’s reputation. The following guide highlights the key bases that you need to get right in order to keep your company safe. Advertising a job role and interviewing: Beware discrimination When crafting job adverts, you must avoid using words or descriptions that might imply discrimination, so only mention those attributes specifically required for the job. Specifying ‘a recent graduate’ or ‘very experienced person’ can be ... »

Contract Negotiations: What Small Business Owners Need to Know

Contract Negotiations: What Small Business Owners Need to Know

Ensuring that contracts between a business and its suppliers are legally water tight is important for a company of any size but especially so for small enterprises and start-ups as costly and time-consuming legal battles could quickly result in closure for cashflow-restricted small firms. Negotiating the business and legal terms of a contract can be tricky and yet it’s essential that it is carried out to protect both parties involved and it’s vital that the people involved know how to deal with all aspects of the process. Here I have put together seven guiding steps to help you understand who and what is involved when setting up a contract with a supplier to help you avoid any potentially fatal legal fights. Confidentiality and your business-supplier contract For negotiations that need to ... »

How to Choose a Legal Advisor

How to Choose a Legal Advisor

It is difficult to find a good law firm. Even the most knowledgeable businessman can still struggle to make sense of legal jargon and billable hours. This, coupled with the fear of what might happen if you don’t have all the right documents in place, can make the process extremely daunting. Over the years we’ve learnt from our experience and wanted to share a few top tips when it comes to sourcing a solicitor. Use your network A great way to start is with recommendations from within your network. This way, you are getting a first-hand review – rather than navigating your way through endless Google generated results. Make sure though that the reference comes from a business similar to yours. They will have incurred the same legal issues you are trying to resolve. Meaning they are tried and ... »

What Employers Need to Know about Discrimination at Work Claims

What Employers Need to Know about Discrimination at Work Claims

Maintaining a happy, diverse workforce should be the aim of every responsible employer, and this includes taking the necessary steps to prevent discrimination at work claims. Every business should be aware of the Equality Act 2010, as this is the legislation that outlines what discrimination is and how you can implement practices to avoid it. Many people only consider discrimination in the context of hiring employees. While it is true that this is a key area, discrimination can in fact occur at most stages of the employment process, which is why it is so vital to have systems in place to prevent it. Protected characteristics The Equality Act also lists a number of ‘protected characteristics’, such as age, race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, marital status, pregnancy and religion.... »

Losing Your Local Law Firm Could Cut Off Access to Justice

Losing Your Local Law Firm Could Cut Off Access to Justice

It’s not only the retail outlets belonging to the likes of Blockbuster, Jessops and HMV that have been lost to our high streets. The same story sadly applies to many small legal businesses hit by the double whammy of reduced work volumes and lower fees over the long recession. Away from the media spotlight, hundreds of smaller high street law firms have quietly gone out of business. A good many that haven’t gone bust have been forced into shotgun weddings with other small law firms. Perhaps you feel this doesn’t matter. Let’s face it, it’s easy to typecast lawyers and law firms as parasitic fat cats. It’s true that some of the lawyers working ridiculous hours for a few city firms do earn very good livings, but it’s certainly not the case for the high street practices with only a few partne... »

Whistleblowing: What Small Business Owners Need to Know

Whistleblowing: What Small Business Owners Need to Know

The majority of employers are well aware of ‘whistleblowing’, and interest in the subject has grown significantly in recent months following a series of high-profile cases. In one recent employment tribunal, Cambridge businessman David Best was awarded £3.4m after being dismissed for exposing fraudulent activities by his former employer. With other stories about whistleblowing at the NHS and other public-sector bodies hitting the headlines recently, many business owners have been prompted to brush up on their knowledge of this tricky and often controversial area. What is whistleblowing? In a nutshell, whistleblowing is when an employee discloses certain information, usually to their company’s senior management, a regulator or external official, concerning allegedly illicit activities withi... »

Intellectual Property Rights – Confidentiality

Intellectual Property Rights – Confidentiality

Overview ‘Confidential information’ is any information that a business regards as secret. It can include financial information, such as business plans, or technical information, such as specifications or computer software. Confidential information may have a significant commercial value and needs to be protected as an asset. Essentials Some essential information about intellectual property rights and confidentiality Your Responsibilities As a small business you have responsibilities when it comes to property rights and confidentiality Glossary A list of terms FAQs Frequently asked questions Essentials Anyone who receives confidential information from someone else is under a common law duty not to take unfair advantage of it. In other words they can’t make use of the infor... »

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