Suing others and being sued can be costly and interruptive. It may even damage your company’s reputation in some cases. Putting in measures to legally protect your business can defend you against lawsuits, whilst also making it impossible for others to exploit you. Here are ten steps worth taking in order to legally tighten up your company.
Have a solicitor on call
Every business needs a solicitor they can rely on for advice and assistance. On top of identifying business laws that you should be aware of, a solicitor can help you to deal with difficult clients and employees who may be threatening legal action. A solicitor may even be able to write and phrase letters and emails for you so that you don’t accidentally say anything that could make you liable. When choosing a solicitor, do some research on their track record and read reviews and testimonials online.
Choose the right business structure
The most basic business structure is a sole proprietorship. Such a structure means that the company is under your name and that you have complete control. This can have advantages – you receive all the profits and can run your business as you see fit. However, you are also personally liable for any company debts, which could mean having personal property seized and having your personal credit score tarnished. Switching to a limited company separates your company as its own legal entity – if your company gets into debt you won’t have to pay out of your personal pocket. This could be something to talk to about with your solicitor if you haven’t discussed it already.
Consider a trademark
You could also consider trademarking your company name or logo. This prevents anyone else from using your company name/logo for their own means. Applying for a trademark can be difficult and you may want to hire a qualified trademark lawyer to check that your trademark can’t be confused with anyone else’s.
Protect your web content
It’s worth also protecting your web content – cybercriminals may create a copy of your website and use it for their own gain. A simple way to protect your website is to set up an account with DMCA who will keep tabs on your web content and take down any content that has been stolen. There are also plug-ins that you can use on your website to alert you if someone has used your content or to block out images that were originally displayed on your site. Tynt Insight is one such plug-in worth installing for WordPress users, available to download from https://wordpress.org/plugins/tynt-insight-for-wordpress/.
Get contracts professionally written
Contracts are created as a way of given proof of the terms of an agreement between two parties. It’s worth setting up contracts whenever you take on new employees as well as when you take on clients. To ensure that the wording in these contracts cannot be misconstrued, it’s worth getting contracts professionally written by a legal writer. This way, if an employee or client tries to go against the terms of your agreement, there won’t be any loopholes for them to exploit.
Protect your legal documents
Legal documents such as contracts and agreements may be needed in the case of a lawsuit or breach of terms by another party, which is why it’s important to store these documents in a secure and easily accessible place. Sites like https://symfact.com/ offer software for keeping digital copies of legal documents in one place. If you need physical backups of these documents, make sure they’re all placed somewhere together that is secure such as a safe. Limit who has access to these documents with passwords or codes that they don’t fall into the wrong hands.
Create an employee handbook
An employee handbook can be beneficial legally for many reasons. It can firstly guide your employees through the rules of your business so that they don’t risk you being sued. It can also serve as evidence of training if an employee tries to sue you for not training them up properly (you can even get them to tick parts of the handbook to show that they have been trained in a certain area).
Organise a health and safety audit
There may be health and safety dangers lurking within your company premises that need to be protected against. Organising a health and safety audit can help to identify these dangers. You’re best off hiring a qualified health and safety inspector to come around your premises and point out these dangers. Such a report is done in confidentiality and is for your benefit only. By adding more health and safety features, you can prevent the possibility of future lawsuits whether it’s something as simple as adding signage to warn that tap may be hot or supplying extra safety clothing in case it’s needed.
Hire a bookkeeper
To avoid making costly tax errors, it’s worth hiring a bookkeeper to go through your records and help you calculate tax and expenses. You’re best off going through a professional accountancy firm. Chartered accountants are often the most reliable as they have been screened by a governing body, however, they can be more expensive than non-chartered accountants. Always hire someone that you trust – as with hiring a solicitor you should check for testimonials and online reviews for proof that they are credible.
There are many insurance schemes that you can take out that will pay compensation in the event of a lawsuit. This may not protect your reputation but could save you financially. Employer’s Liability Insurance is compulsory and protects you from claims made by employees that were made sick or injured through your work. Other insurance schemes that you can take out to protect yourself include public liability insurance, product liability insurance and cyber insurance.
You may be able to find a business insurance package that combines all these schemes for a cheaper price than taking them out individually.