Entrepreneurship · 8 June 2022

Business Advice’s Comprehensive Guide To Business Law

employment law

Business law is one of the most important aspects of running a company. It governs the way in which businesses can be structured, how they are registered, what financial regulations they must comply with, as well as a huge range of other areas such as employment law and insurance requirements. If you fall foul of these laws, you could face serious penalties, so it’s vital that you have a good understanding of them.

This guide provides an overview of many of the different aspects of UK business law and explains how to ensure your business is compliant with the law.

An Overview of Business Law

Business law covers a huge range of different legal topics, from employment law and intellectual property to health and safety and tax. The laws governing businesses are constantly changing, so it’s important to keep up to date with the latest developments.

UK business law is intended to protect businesses and consumers, as well as ensure that companies compete fairly. If you’re setting up a new business, it’s essential that you understand the different legal requirements that apply to your company.

legal business structures

Different Legal Business Structures

There are several different types of legal business structures in the UK, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. The most common are sole traders, limited companies, and partnerships.

Sole traders are the simplest type of business to set up – you don’t need to register with Companies House or comply with any complex regulations. However, sole traders are personally liable for all debts incurred by the business.

Limited companies are separate legal entities from their owners. This means that the company is liable for its own debts, and the shareholders are not personally responsible if things go wrong. Limited companies must be registered with Companies House and comply with a range of financial regulations.

Partnerships are similar to sole traders, but there are two or more owners. Partnerships must be registered with HMRC and each partner is personally liable for the debts of the business.

Legally Registering a Business

If you’re setting up a limited company, you must register it with Companies House. This involves filing various documents, including the Memorandum and Articles of Association. You will also need to appoint directors, register for Corporation Tax, and open a business bank account.

Sole traders and partnerships do not need to be registered with Companies House, but you must still register for self-assessment and pay Income Tax on your profits.

Licences and Registrations

Depending on the type of business you’re running, you may need to apply for licences and registrations. For example, businesses that serve food or alcohol will need a licence from their local authority. Likewise, if you’re planning to run a taxi service, you’ll need to register with the local council.

Licences and registrations are important because they help to ensure that businesses are operating safely and complying with the law. They protect consumers and give them peace of mind that they’re dealing with a reputable company.

Financial and Tax Laws

All businesses in the UK must comply with financial and tax laws. This includes filing annual accounts, paying Corporation Tax (if you’re a limited company), and Self-Assessment (if you’re a sole trader or partnership).

Financial laws are designed to ensure that businesses are transparent and accountable. They also help to prevent fraud and money laundering. There are hefty penalties for businesses that flout financial laws, so it’s important to make sure you’re compliant.

Tax laws ensure that businesses pay their fair share of tax, and they help to fund vital public services like healthcare and education. The type and amount of tax that your business will need to pay will depend on various factors including the type of business you are running, your annual turnover and any deductions you are legally entitled to claim.

employment laws

Employment Law

If you employ any staff at your company, you must comply with employment law. This is to protect the rights of employees and ensure that they are treated fairly.

Employment law covers a wide range of topics, including contracts of employment, minimum wage rates, working hours, annual leave entitlement, sick pay, maternity and paternity leave, and dismissal procedures. All of these are heavily regulated by UK business law because they have a direct impact on people’s lives.

If you breach employment law, you could potentially be liable for hefty fines. You could also face a claim from an employee, which could cost your business a lot of money and also cause serious reputational damage to your business.

Intellectual Property Law

If you have any original ideas or creations, you need to make sure that they are protected by intellectual property law. This includes trademarks, patents, and copyright.

Intellectual property law is designed to protect the rights of creators and ensure that they are properly compensated for their work. It also encourages innovation and creativity by giving people the incentive to create new things.

There are many examples of intellectual property disputes with the Apple vs Samsung battles of recent years being the most prominent. Over the past ten to fifteen years, the two companies have been locked in a series of legal cases over the design and technology of their products.

Intellectual property law is easier to enforce and comply with if you are just operating or dealing with partners and suppliers in the UK. Where it gets more complicated is when you are selling goods or services internationally as you then need to take into account the intellectual property laws of other countries and may find it more difficult to ensure that nobody steals or copies your ideas.

Workplace Health and Safety Law

All businesses in the UK have a legal duty to ensure that their employees are safe at work. The UK has some of the strictest workplace health and safety laws in the world because the government recognises that businesses have a responsibility to protect their employees.

Workplace health and safety law covers a wide range of topics, including risk assessments, fire safety, first aid, manual handling, chemicals and hazardous substances, noise and vibration, electrical safety, personal protective equipment (PPE), display screen equipment (DSE), and stress.

If you breach workplace health and safety law, you could potentially be liable for hefty fines. You could also potentially be sued by an injured employee. This is why it is so important to make sure that you are compliant with these laws.

non-disclosure agreements

Non-Disclosure Agreements

If you have any confidential information or trade secrets, you need to make sure that they are protected by non-disclosure agreements (NDAs). NDAs are legal contracts between businesses and individuals that stipulate what information can and cannot be shared.

NDAs are typically used when businesses are sharing confidential information with each other, such as during negotiations or when one business is considering investing in another.

There have been many high-profile cases of companies breaching NDAs, such as when Tesla was sued by its former head of Autopilot, Sterling Anderson, for allegedly stealing trade secrets and sharing them with his new company, Aurora.

NDAs often get a bad reputation because they are seen by the public as a way for powerful businesses or wealthy individuals to cover up their wrongdoings. However, they are actually a very important part of business law and can be used legitimately to protect confidential information.

It is important to make sure that you have strong NDAs in place if you are sharing confidential information with anyone. This will help to protect your trade secrets and ensure that they do not end up in the hands of your competitors.

Laws Governing the Buying and Selling of Businesses

If you are thinking of buying or selling a business, there are a number of legal considerations that you need to take into account.

The first thing you need to do is get a valuation of the business. This will give you an idea of how much the business is worth and will help you to negotiate a fair price.