Starting up a Business

Whether you're a sole trader, or setting up a partnership or company, you will need to comply with the law on a whole range of business issues, from your choice of trading name to the type of insurance you take out.

Talk to us when you're at the planning stage of any new enterprise or initiative. Not sure how changes in the law affect your business? Thinking of making someone redundant? Need a business agreement drawing up? By investing in advice at an early stage, you can avoid spending time and money resolving problems later on.

Choosing a business structure

We can advise you on the most appropriate structure for your business, explaining the pros and cons of each option as they relate to you and your circumstances. You can operate as a sole trader, a partnership, a limited liability partnership, or a company. If you choose to go into partnership, or form a company, we can draft the appropriate agreements for you.

Shareholders agreements

Each individual shareholder needs their own solicitor to negotiate the shareholder agreement for them, to protect their own interests.

The agreement sets out the business relationship between the shareholders, covering issues such as the transfer of shares, decision making, representation on the board of directors and protection of your interests in certain situations.

The shareholders agreement is a private document which generally doesn't have to be registered with Companies House, unlike Articles of Association.

Articles of Association

You must prepare Articles of Association to send to Companies House. The Articles set out the rules for the internal running of your company. We can tailor the articles to meet the needs of your own business.

Partnership agreements (Articles of Partnership)

You don't need a written partnership agreement by law, but we strongly advise that you have one to establish important issues such as share of profits, how the partnership can be ended, the authority of partners on certain issues, how much capital each partner will contribute.

Members' agreements (Limited Liability Partnerships)

In a partnership, you and your partners are fully responsible for all business debts, and you have no limit to your liability. Your personal assets can be used to pay the debts of the partnership. In a limited liability partnership, you can reduce your liability if something goes wrong. We can set up a thorough and comprehensive Members' agreement for you.

Finding business premises

It's very important that you get professional advice when taking out a business lease or buying a property for business purposes. You must fully understand the obligations and restrictions of any lease you take on, and consider whether it will be appropriate for your business needs now and in the future. For more information, view our commercial property section.

Responsibility for employees

You have legal obligations to anyone you employ, whether part time or full time. We can help you draw up employment contracts and deal with dismissals, redundancies and employment tribunals. For more information, view our employment section.

Terms and conditions

You need to establish the terms and conditions under which you will supply goods and services to your customers. This will help you make sure you get paid on time and can protect you if your customer goes bankrupt. Don't simply rely on standard terms and conditions - we will help you draft terms and conditions that reflect the requirements of your business. You should ideally review them every three or four years so they can be updated to reflect changes in your circumstances and changes in the law. Make sure your customers have a copy of your Terms and Conditions and encourage them to sign them.

Commercial agreements

To get the best from your business relationships, you should ideally set out the details of important agreements with suppliers, clients and business partners in writing, forming a written contract. It's easy for people to forget what's been agreed, change their minds, or simply interpret your conversations differently if there's nothing in writing. With a written contract, you are less likely to have disputes and disagreements. If you do get into dispute, the written contract should make matters easier to resolve.

We can prepare the following agreements for you:

  • company acquisitions
  • business purchases and sales
  • terms and conditions of business
  • joint ventures
  • development agreements
  • agency agreements
  • distributorship agreements
  • franchise agreements

Click here for more information about letters of intent.