Business & Commercial Law

Business & Commercial Law

If you’re running a small business you’re often run off your feet and have little time to get across the legal necessities for your business.  That’s no problem at all; most of our small business clients are in the same boat.  You have enough on your plate, so our experienced small business lawyers are here to help.

We can ensure your small business is structured correctly, and that it is set up to afford you and your business the legal protection you need.  You can then get on with doing what you do best, running your business.

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Articles relating to Business & Commercial Law

6 Contract Hacks for Small Business Owners

As a small business owner, having valid legal contracts, whether with your customers or other businesses, can be crucial in your ultimate overall business success.  Without valid legal contracts, you may find yourself unprotected when it comes to chasing non-payment for goods or non-delivery of contracted services.  So in this blog, Fiona (our Legally Yours fixed-fee commercial law specialist) has shared six contract hacks that will make your life easier when conducting business with your consumer.

  1. Identify All Parties

The first contract hack is to ensure you identify all the parties to the contract. By this we mean include as much detail relating to both parties to the contract as you can.  This includes the company name, the company ABN, the company address, as well as a contact person within the company you are dealing with. If you’re entering into a contract with a sole trader, make sure you include the person’s name and then also the business name, ABN, address and the like.  The more detail you have in relation to identifying all the parties to the contract, the better.

  1. Define a Period of Time

The second contract hack is to always make sure you have a defined contractual period included in the contract i.e. a start date and end date to the contract.  If it is an ongoing business relationship and therefore there is no end date, ensure you specifically make reference to this in the contract by stating that the contractual period is ongoing from the commencement of the contract date.

  1. Document Contract Terms

The third contract hack is to outline the specific terms of the contract.  We liken this part of the contract to telling the story of the relationship between the parties.  You should specify the purpose of the contract, who is providing what to whom, and how the contract will be carried out between the parties.  By including as much detail as possible in the terms, you can avoid any later confusion or miscommunication as to what the contract was intended to deliver.

  1. Consider Payment Terms

The fourth contract hack is regarding payment terms.  This is an absolute essential element to any contract.  You should include the price of the goods or services, the method of calculating the costs of the payment, and exactly when payment should be made. The clearer you are in relation to the payment terms within the contract, the less that can go wrong in relation to not being paid later on.

  1. Offer and Acceptance

The fifth contract hack is to clearly state what the offer is by one party to the other ,followed by an acknowledged acceptance of the offer. The acceptance can be communicated either by the other party signing the contract, or it could be they have an option to tick an acceptance box before making payment.

Either way, it needs to be a specific action to prove that there has been some common meeting of minds on the contract. Often you see a little tickbox that says “I agree to the terms and conditions published on this website”. When a person ticks this box, the law considers that there has been a meeting of the minds in relation to what was being offered and accepted.  It is the responsibility of the person accepting and ticking the box, to have read and agreed with the terms and conditions of the contract, and thereby prevents them from coming back at a later date and asserting that they were unaware of the terms of the contract they were accepting.

  1. Dispute Resolution

The sixth contract hack is around dispute resolution. If you’ve got an ongoing contractual relationship, we strongly recommend including provisions that outline what dispute process will be enacted if the contract is breached or terminated.  It is a lot easier to agree on dispute resolution processes when both parties are in agreement, as opposed to when a breach or termination has occurred.  This could include accessing specific mediation services and/or time-frames around resolving disputes.

If you would like to know more about contracts and how to best protect your business, please contact us at www.legallyyours.com.au and we will connect you with Fiona for a free consultation and fixed-fee quote.

When you need a lawyer, it’s important to get it right. At Legally Yours we connect you with high quality, fixed price commercial lawyers. This means you’ll know upfront exactly what you’ll be paying. No more hourly billing, no more price uncertainty.

For a complimentary consultation and fixed-fee quote connect with us at http://www.legallyyours.com.au/get-a-quote/ or call us on 1300 822 708.

Written by Mira Stammers and Karen Finch from Legally Yours and in consultation with Fiona McCord.

Don’t Risk Your Business. Protect Your IP.

As a business owner it’s imperative to protect your Intellectual Property, otherwise known as IP. Why? Because not having protection in place can have devastating consequences on your business leading to potential loss of earnings, or worse, being forced to close the door on your business.

We recently met a business owner who had created a brilliant invention, had put their product to market and within a matter of months had several people copying her idea. As a consequence she actually had to close her business. One of the biggest mistakes she made was not taking the proper steps to protect her intellectual property.

Intellectual property is protected in law by copyright, patents and trademarks. These areas of legal protection enable people to earn recognition or financial benefit from what they invent or create. Let’s take a closer look at these definitions:

Copyright

Copyright is term used to describe the rights that creators have over their literary and artistic works. Work covered by copyright range from books, music, paintings, sculpture and films, to computer programs, databases, advertisements, maps and technical drawings.

Patent

A patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention. A patent provides the patent owner with the exclusive rights to decide whether the invention can be used by others and if so how it can be used by others. In exchange for this right, the patent owner makes technical information about the invention publicly available in the published patent document.

Trademark

A trademark is a sign capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one business from those of other businesses. Trademarks date back to ancient times when craftsmen used to put their signature or “mark” on their products. Often business owners get confused and think that registering an IP address or a business name protects them, but actually registering a trademark is what protects the brand itself.

So in order to best protect your business’ IP and ensure complete IP protection, we would suggest contacting a lawyer to discuss which option is best for you.  If you are an established business, then ask the lawyer for a complimentary review of the IP protection you currently have in place, and then a fixed-fee quote for any update/added protection you may require.  If you are a new start up, then speak to a lawyer about the right IP protection for your business and ensure your business is protected right from the start.

Just one more tip… if you want to register a patent be mindful that this can be a lengthy process, so the sooner you get started, the better it will be for your business.

When you need a lawyer, it’s important to get it right. At Legally Yours we connect you with high quality, fixed price lawyers. This means you’ll know upfront exactly what you’ll be paying. No more hourly billing, no more price uncertainty.

Contact a fixed fee patent attorney or intellectual property lawyer today who will minimise your legal fees. For a complimentary consultation and fixed fee quote connect with us at http://www.legallyyours.com.au/get-a-quote/ or call us on 1300 822 708.

Written by Mira Stammers and Karen Finch from Legally Yours.

Unfair Contract Terms – What does it all mean and what’s changing?

Are you a small business that employs less than 20 employees? Does your business use non-negotiable contracts with an upfront price value of less than $300,000? If you answered yes to any of either of these questions, then the new ‘unfair contract terms’ legislation may be applicable to your business.

Is your business affected and/or protected by the new ‘unfair contract terms’ legislation?

From the 12 November 2016, new legislation will be in force that directly impacts small businesses and the way they enter into contracts. If you are a small business that employs less than 20 employees (including on a casual basis) or you have a business that enters into contracts with small businesses of less than 20 employees, then this law could apply to you.

So what contracts are affected by the new legislation?

The new legislation applies to all contracts entered or renewed after the 12 November 2016 that involve an upfront price payable of less than $300,000 (or less than $1 million if the contract is over 12 months in duration). The contract must be for the supply of goods or services or the sale or grant of an interest in land, and relates to a ‘standard form contract’ (or in other words a contract where one party has no opportunity to negotiate the terms, but rather can ‘take it or leave it)’.

What does ‘unfair contract term’ mean?

The ACCC defines an ‘unfair contract term’ as a term that causes a significant imbalance to one of the parties’ obligations and rights. The term is also deemed unfair if it is not reasonably necessary to protect the legitimate interest of the party that could have an advantage by the term, with an end result being that the term could cause a financial or other detriment to a small business if it were relied upon. In determining whether the term is unfair, you would also consider how transparent the term is in the contract, as well as assess the term in light of the contract as a whole.

What can you do if you think a contract you have entered includes an ‘unfair contract term’?

Unfair Contract terms can only be determined by a court or tribunal. At Legally Yours we can connect you with a fixed-fee commercial lawyer for a complimentary contract review to see whether this new ‘unfair contract term’ legislation applies to contracts in your business. For all inquiries, please go to www.legallyyours.com.au or call 1300 822 708.

 

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