Your Business With James Caan 2017 - 87

LEGAL MATTERS

W

hen working out the essential
costs of starting a business,
hiring a solicitor may not be high on
your list of priorities. It may be that
you hope to use one only on an
as-required basis, when issues and
problems arise during the running
of your company.
But skimping on legal advice at the
beginning of your entrepreneurial
journey can prove hideously costly in
the long run. While it may seem like
an outlay that could be better spent
elsewhere, paying for legal advice right
from the start could mean you avoid
difficulties once you're up and running.
Moreover, a solicitor's advice might
not be limited to purely legal matters.
Many have experience dealing with
start-up businesses, and are likely to
have numerous examples of successes
and failures you can learn from.
And don't forget that a solicitor's
role isn't just advisory. There may
be a significant amount of paperwork
required to get your business up and
running. Some of this - particularly if
there are multiple shareholders - can
require professional expertise well
beyond most laypeople. Your lawyers
can take much of this burden off your
shoulders, allowing you to focus on
running your business.

PHOTOGRAPHY: SHUTTERSTOCK

LEGAL PROTECTION

Once engaged, a solicitor will go
through a detailed checklist to look at
all aspects of your business and make
sure you're legally prepared in all
areas. It's vital that you're totally open
with your solicitor. Don't forget, your
relationship is protected by their
obligation to confidentiality - client
confidentiality is enshrined in law. The
questions they ask may throw up a few
challenges you hadn't previously
considered, but this is one of the
benefits of an advisory engagement, so
make sure you expose the full extent of
your business plan to their scrutiny.
One of the first things your solicitor
will look to determine is the structure
of your business. Will you be operating
as a sole trader or do you need to set
up a company? Are you thinking of
going into partnership with others
and, if so, how will ownership be
apportioned? If you're setting up a

Choose a solicitor
with experience
of setting up
businesses

company, will it be a partnership, a
limited company or a limited liability
partnership? You may have gone into
business with a particular structure in
mind, but your solicitor may give you
some good reasons why a different
method of organisation might be more
appropriate. They will then draw up
the paperwork for the solution you
decide on.

EXPERIENCE IS KEY

When choosing a solicitor, it's
important to ensure you find a
company that's experienced in setting
up a successful business. The legal
profession has a notorious reputation
for high fees - which isn't wholly
undeserved - but it can't be stressed
enough that trying to save money by
avoiding legal fees can prove a recipe
for disaster in the future.
If your budget is extremely limited,
shop around and try to do as much of
the work yourself as is feasible.
However, don't avoid legal advice
entirely, as it could well mean the
difference between the success or
failure of your business in the long run.

Indeed, it could keep you out of the
bankruptcy court - and even prison -
in the event of disaster. As opposed to
taking advantage of your finances,
many firms will do everything they can
to offer you the best service - and
value - possible.

LEGISLATION LIABILITIES

While the responsibility of abiding by
your legislative responsibilities rests
entirely with you, you need to know
what those responsibilities are - and
you will almost certainly need to take
legal advice to be sure you're compliant
with the relevant laws. This is
particularly important when it comes
to keeping up with new legislation.
You'll also want to be informed
about your rights as a purchaser of the
goods and services which you yourself
use - and potentially about where you
stand in relation to consumer rights in
the event of requests for refunds or
complaints. A solicitor can also play an
important role in areas that may seem
to be the domains of others. You can
get independent advice from a solicitor
on your insurance obligations and

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