If you’re running a small or medium sized business, it’s likely that you will be entering into contracts on an almost daily basis.
Every time you sell to your customers you’re entering into a contract. Every time you’re purchasing supplies of your suppliers you’re entering into a contract. In many situations businesses enter into implied oral contracts (such as when a barista takes an order in a coffee shop).
In others, you will be entering into a written contract that is negotiated by the parties. This article provides some advice on when you should consult with a contract lawyer, and how you should work with a contract lawyer to get the best result for your business.
1. Business terms and conditions – A must for any business
Perhaps the most important legal document that any business, large or small, needs to function effectively is a set of business terms and conditions. Your business terms and conditions set out the contract between your business and your customers.
It you’re going to spend money on any type of legal services, getting your business terms and conditions drafted by a good contract lawyer is as good a choice as any.
They key to a good set of business terms and conditions is ensuring that you bear as little liability as possible for anything going wrong if a customer purchases your goods or services. A good contract lawyer will be able to draft your business terms and conditions in such a way; but remember, you can’t get out of your obligations under consumer law!
2. Big ticket deals – Sale or purchase of business and franchise agreements
It can be difficult to find the money to pay for a lawyer on everyday items such as reviewing supplier contracts and the like, but it’s foolish not to work with a good contract lawyer when entering in to deals that involve the very existence of your business.
If you’re purchasing or selling a business, or entering into a franchise, you clearly need to work with a lawyer to ensure your interests are protected. A good contract lawyer should either be hired to draft the sale of business agreement or franchise agreement, or to review the documents.
The cheapest option is just to pay for the drafting or review; a modern lawyer will usually provide a fixed-fee price for this. If you’ve got a little more to spend, and the business or franchise in question is worth slightly more, then you should consider paying for you lawyer to represent you in negotiations.
3. Litigation – A no-brainer
If you’re involved in litigation, either as the applicant or the defendant, it would be highly unusual and irresponsible to proceed without the assistance and advice on a qualified lawyer. As the saying going, a man who represents himself has a fool for a client.
A litigation lawyer, or disputes lawyer, will be able to represent you in court and in negotiations. If you choose not to work with a lawyer you won’t be in a position to defend against the other side’s tactics, and you’ll in all likelihood end up either losing your case, or winning a much smaller settlement than you would of if you’d been working with a lawyer.
It’s obviously important to work with a lawyer who is trustworthy and has your best interests at heart. Have a chat with your lawyer before hiring him or her, get some references and do your research.
Obviously it would be great if you could work with a lawyer every time a minor documentation issue arose. For many small businesses this is simply not possible due to cost constraints.
There are however three key times when you should not seek to avoid working with a lawyer:
- Drafting your business terms and conditions
- Purchasing or selling a business or franchise
- Entering into litigation.
Get in touch with the LegalVision team for assistance with any business legal matter!