Where can I find free legal advice for my business?
Every business will require legal advice and guidance at some point. One of the most critical times to obtain legal information is in the early stages when creating working procedures and employee contracts.
A report carried out by the Legal Services Board in 2015 investigated the legal needs of businesses in England and Wales concluded that SMEs lose approximately £9.8 billion annually due to legal issues. Legal advice at the beginning of forming a company is therefore invaluable. It can equip you with the knowledge that you need to understand the potential consequences of your business, to protect your business and make better business decisions. When SMBs don’t obtain the legal advice, they could find themselves encountering costly pitfalls down the line that could have been preempted or planned for earlier.
Luckily, there are several free online resources wherein legal advice can be found on a range of subjects relevant to your business.
Small business includes a dedicated legal advice section on the site containing detailed guides and articles on numerous subjects. Examples include advice on how to recover money owed to your business, how to formulate a set of terms and conditions, information regarding company and employment law and tax law.
Legal Advice Centre
This site is run by the commercial law firm, Truelegal Solicitors. The website contains multiple free resources, helpful when starting your business and beyond.
Information is available relating to business structure, such as partnership agreements and company formation. The website provides information on various types of business agreements, agency agreements, confidentiality agreements, distribution agreements and franchise agreements. There is also a section aimed at addressing the issue of legal compliance when trading online.
This site has been created by a law firm that specialises in legal advice required by SMEs. In addition to providing legal information, users can download a set of templates, for a fee, to draft documents such as grievance and disciplinary policies. There are also some free guides at the bottom of the home page.
Subjects covered include how to collect a debt from a customer, five steps on handling a business dispute, avoiding ineffective agreements, and how to claim interest on overdue invoices.
Gov.co.uk offers a well written and easy to read guide on what you need to do to set up your business. Information is available for dealing with registering different types of business, from a sole trader to a limited company.
The site sets out the information needed to ensure your business complies with rules on selling goods online and buying products from abroad. There is also guidance on the actions required when hiring staff, such as payroll and providing workplace pensions.
Help and support are available via the site regarding government-backed schemes that can help you with tax and exporting, amongst a range of other matters.
Important elements of running a business such as waste management and environmental impact are all referenced on the site. The implications of factors such as environmental impact alone can mean that your company is liable for costs; this should be taken into account when pricing products or services.
It is vital as a business owner to fully understand all the implications involved in employing staff, even in circumstances where staff are temporary or part-time. The rules of employment law apply to every employer.
The Experian website is a useful free resource that covers the basic requirements relating to terms of employment, rights to a payslip, national minimum wage and paid holiday. Employees also have a right to a workplace pension and employers must ensure that employees can access a suitable scheme.
While employment law doesn’t cover contractors and freelancers, they still have certain rights, these rights are discussed on the site. The Experian website also directs the reader to additional sources of free legal advice such as the Citizens’ Advice Bureau.
The above are just some of the legal advice resources available online. Ensuring your business has the correct legal requirements in place will strengthen your business and protect that all-important bottom line.