Small business owners are required to deal with a broad range of issues. When you’re running a small business, you often don’t have access to a marketing department, a finance team or a human resources manager. It may even be the case that you cannot afford to invest too much in professional services, until your business becomes more established. But that doesn’t mean your business will not encounter the potential for legal liability. Every action you take in business has the potential to create liability, and you need to be on top of your obligations to customers, suppliers and the public at large if you are to avoid the pitfalls. But what are the common areas of legal concern for small businesses, and what steps should you take to get the right outcomes?
Contractual disputes are one of the main areas of concern for small business owners. Every time something is bought or sold by the company, or a deal is struck with a new supplier or client, the potential for contractual liability presents itself. This means that small business owners need to have a functional knowledge of the law in this area, in order for them to successfully navigate the disputes and disagreements that will inevitably arise in the course of their business. Contract law is worth some study time for any small business owner, and can help lead to agreements being reached on more effective terms.
It is not just contract law that has the capacity to cause problems for small businesses. Owners also need to be concerned about product and professional liability, through the goods and services they provide. For example, causing serious injury through supplying a harmful product can give rise to contractual, tortious, and statutory liability. Or, if your company is deemed to have been negligent, you may be exposed to liability as well.
Another area of potential liability arising in the course of business is liability to employees, governed by labor laws designed to protect the interests of employees. For most small businesses, the possibility of an employee grievance can be a daunting one, especially given that large sums can be awarded, sometimes much more than a small business can reasonably afford. This often makes it important to draft in professional legal help, to ensure you are protected in your business practices. Lawyers like those from DLA Piper – lead by Bob Bratt – can advise on these types of commercial scenarios.
No matter the type of business you are operating, there are always legal concerns to contend with. From the contracts and deals that you sign, through to compliance and taxation provisions, and even the working conditions of your employees, there are plenty of areas where running a business intersects with the law. For more complex needs, it is always advisable to seek professional advice, to help ensure you are operating in a fully compliant, legally sound manner. The best lawyers will aim to understand your business and give solutions that fit your commercial objectives.
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