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Setting up a business involves complying with a range of legal requirements. Find out which ones apply to you and your new enterprise.

While poor governance can bring serious legal consequences, the law can also protect business owners and managers and help to prevent conflict.

Whether you want to raise finance, join forces with someone else, buy or sell a business, it pays to be aware of the legal implications.

From pay, hours and time off to discipline, grievance and hiring and firing employees, find out about your legal responsibilities as an employer.

Marketing matters. Marketing drives sales for businesses of all sizes by ensuring that customers think of their brand when they want to buy.

Commercial disputes can prove time-consuming, stressful and expensive, but having robust legal agreements can help to prevent them from occurring.

Whether your business owns or rents premises, your legal liabilities can be substantial. Commercial property law is complex, but you can avoid common pitfalls.

With information and sound advice, living up to your legal responsibilities to safeguard your employees, customers and visitors need not be difficult or costly.

As information technology continues to evolve, legislation must also change. It affects everything from data protection and online selling to internet policies for employees.

Intellectual property (IP) isn't solely relevant to larger businesses or those involved in developing innovative new products: all products have IP.

Knowing how and when you plan to sell or relinquish control of your business can help you to make better decisions and achieve the best possible outcome.

From bereavement, wills, inheritance, separation and divorce to selling a house, personal injury and traffic offences, learn more about your personal legal rights.

Commercial premises law

Commercial premises can be a major asset for your business - and an expensive and aggravating management challenge. Commercial property law is complex. Whether you own or rent premises, you can face substantial legal liabilities and potential costs.

Understanding the issues and taking legal advice can help you avoid the pitfalls, putting you in a stronger position to negotiate the right solution for your business.

Taking on commercial premises

Moving premises is disruptive and expensive. From the outset, you want to find premises that suit your business needs, now and in the future. As well as practical considerations such as location and size, you'll need to choose the right sort of property tenure: short-term, flexible rental; taking a lease; or outright freehold purchase.

Thorough due diligence will be necessary to ensure that there are no nasty surprises. As well as a lawyer handling the legal aspects of the conveyancing, you'll probably need the advice of a chartered surveyor and often a full structural survey.

Unless the premises are already perfect for your business, you'll also need to be very clear about your rights to alter the premises or how they are used. Among other things, changes may require planning permission or building consent.

Landlord and tenant

Most business premises are either leased or rented on a short-term licence. Negotiating the right terms in the lease or rental agreement can be crucial. As well as restrictions on what you can do, an agreement can impose substantial responsibilities. Getting it wrong can expose you to substantial costs.

For longer leases, rent reviews can be another potential pitfall. If your property needs change and you need to get out of a lease, you can face a very difficult negotiation. Whether you want to continue to occupy the premises or move on, the end of a lease can also be a difficult situation. In each case, expert advice and help can make all the difference.

Premises management

Legal advice can help you understand the main issues for your business to consider. A planned approach to how you deal with things like repairs and maintenance helps to minimise the risks and costs.

Bear in mind that you're likely to have significant responsibilities for health and safety, even if you are not the outright owner of your business premises. Property and other laws set out detailed responsibilities in areas such as managing asbestos and ensuring that premises are accessible for the disabled. The impact of your commercial premises on the environment can be another significant responsibility.

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