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We’re here with practical legal information for your business. Learn about employment law, company law and more.


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

What particular regulations do specific types of business (such as a hotel, or a printer, or a taxi firm) need to follow? We explain some of the key legal issues to consider for 200 types of business.

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.

Getting paid - trading terms

Inadequate trading terms, or terms that don’t apply because customers or suppliers saw them too late, are two of the biggest reasons why businesses don’t get paid by customers

What to include in your trading terms

Simply ensuring that you have clear trading terms, and that you have drawn them to your customer’s attention, helps to minimise debt collection problems. Key areas to consider include:

  • Specifying when payment will be due, what interest will be due on late payments, and so on.
  • Making sure you can recover as many of the collection and litigation costs as possible, if you aren’t paid.
  • Limiting your liability if you are unable to supply the goods.
  • Explaining what will happen if only part of an order is delivered, or if a delivery contains faulty products.
  • Stating that you retain ownership of goods until payment has been received.

There may be other areas that are important in your particular circumstances. For example, your terms might need to protect your ownership of intellectual property. In some industries, it is standard practice to set out how any dispute will be dealt with (eg by arbitration). You can include an alternative dispute resolution clause (to avoid going to court) in any contract.

Your terms must apply

It’s no good having well-drafted trading terms if they don’t apply. You need to prove an offer was made to contract on your terms, and the offer was accepted.

  • Make sure your terms are in writing. If there’s nothing in writing there will still be a contract, but it will be difficult to prove what its terms were.
  • Make sure your procedures mean your customer agrees your terms before the contract comes into existence, and that you have evidence of this.
  • Ask all new customers to complete an account opening form which includes a copy of your terms and conditions, or sign a statement confirming that they have read and agree to your terms and conditions.
  • If you are supplying information online, have a separate 'pop up' page with your terms and conditions that has to be scrolled to the bottom of for a customer to accept.
  • Post your terms of business where contracts are entered into (eg at your cash tills) and draw customers’ attention to them.

A common mistake is to put your terms and conditions only on invoices. This is not effective for new customers, as the invoice isn’t seen until after the contract has been agreed.

Control who’s offering and who’s accepting

Sometimes you want to avoid being the person making the offer. This is an important protection if you are selling at a distance: for example, if you are making sales from your website, or from a catalogue or other marketing literature.

Make it clear that putting details of your goods and services on your website or in your catalogue isn’t an offer to sell them. Instead, customers are offering to buy your goods and services when placing an order - you are not making an offer to sell. That means that if your goods and services have been wrongly priced, or misdescribed, you can refuse the offer and there is no contract.

Review your trading terms regularly

Review your terms of business at least once a year, every time there is a change in trading law, and every time you introduce a new product or service, or a new means of promoting or delivering it.

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