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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.

Business ownership and management

Owning and managing a business involves significant responsibilities and potential liabilities. Understanding the key legal issues is vital. Bringing in the right personnel and putting strong management practices in place will help you avoid potentially serious mistakes.

Corporate governance

Running a successful business requires robust and efficient corporate governance arrangements. You need to be clear about how you want to run your business and what your objectives for it are. You can use a company's articles of association, a shareholder agreement or a partnership agreement to pin these key issues down.

In a limited company, the board of directors is at the heart of corporate governance. You should aim to build a board with the skills and experience to develop a successful business strategy and to oversee its execution. Where necessary, supplement your in-house expertise with external specialist advice.

Shareholder and ownership issues

Business ownership considerations can be a source of complication and conflict, particularly when it comes to allocating control, financial returns as well as potential liabilities. In a private company these issues can be clarified using articles of association or a shareholder agreement, as well as by issuing different classes of shares. In a partnership, a written partnership agreement serves a similar purpose.

Private companies no longer need to hold an annual general meeting of the shareholders unless their articles of association specifically require them to. However, some decisions still need to be referred back to shareholders. For example, the Companies Act says that the contents of a company's articles of association can only be changed following a decision of the shareholders.

Company administration

Efficient company administration forms an important part of ensuring compliance with key aspects of business law. And it also reduces the likelihood of unnecessary mistakes or aggravation throwing you off course.

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