Have you recently started a small business? You’ve probably taken care of the logo, branding and marketing. You have your staff in place and your product is ready to start flying off the shelves. At this point, you might think you’re all set to go.
But, have you given any consideration to what you’d do if you suddenly found yourself in the middle of a dispute? What would you do if there are claims filed against your business? Many of the contract lawyers Melbourne has on offer will all give you the same advice—ensure the correct contracts are in place from the onset.
Crucial Small Business Contracts
As a business owner, getting notification of a possible litigation dispute can be the beginning of a very stressful time. Having the right lawyer in place is only part of the preventative measures you can take. Let’s have a look at some of the contracts you should have in place to avoid potential litigation.
Service contracts serve to outline exactly what functions your company will provide. It should also outline the functions your business expects from other companies. These types of arrangements will also cover specialised or creative contracts that include the following:
- Accounting services contracts
- Computer service contracts
- Editor and freelance writer contracts
- Graphic design contracts
Employee agreements are necessary to specify all the rights and obligations of all the full-time or salaried employees working for your company. With paperwork in place, you’ll be better prepared if any future litigation arises from employee discrepancies about overtime worked, employee infringements, or any other payroll related matters.
In addition to employee agreements, it’s necessary for all people working for you to have a signed copy of their code of conduct. This is a guideline that must clearly explain to each employee what’s expected of them. There should also be a clear organogram explaining the reporting structure within your company. If there’s a problem, they should know who to report it to.
It is also recommended that you have employees sign a non-compete agreement. Doing this will prevent partners, former employees, or even current employees from starting a new business and competing against you. Not having this in place puts you at great risk when employees have access to designs, undocumented and unpatented projects, or even software applications that may be in the pipeline.
Independent Contractor Agreement
Often a small business owner might think it’s not necessary to have contracts in place for short-term employees. However, to ensure maximum protection for your business and the employee in question, it’s necessary to have signed agreements in place. This applies to every consultant, freelancer and short-term employee you use in your business.
Release of Liability Agreements
The release of liability document will release your company from any liability for any potential injuries incurred on your business premises. These documents will also cover your company from injury or damage claims sustained by any person participating in an activity on your premises.
This also includes events that might be sponsored by your company. The onus is then on you to ensure the safety of anyone making use of your services.
Provisional Patent Application
Unprotected companies could see their top ideas being stolen if designs or creations aren’t protected. The easiest way to ensure your invention or product isn’t stolen before your patent is secured, is to complete a provisional filing document. This would then allow you and your designers to use the “Patent Pending” notice while you wait for an official patent filing date.
With so many companies competing with each other to be the best at what they do, they might poach your employees by offering them bigger salaries or more benefits. When employees leave, they could take your company’s trade secrets with them. It’s important to get current employees to sign a non-disclosure agreement.
A tip here would be to get potential employees coming in for interviews to sign these documents as well. This will keep your proprietary information safe.
7 Contractual Claims a Contract Lawyer Can Assist You With
Having a contract lawyer on hand will greatly benefit your company in the event of litigation or even a contractual claim.
Some of the contractual claims that you can get assistance from include the following:
- Claims for rectification
- A claim for equitable remedies
- Any claim related to performance
- Claims for breach
- Claims for damages
- Interpretation of contracts
- Termination and discharge of contracts
When it comes to legal matters surrounding your business, it’s imperative to do the right thing from the start. That includes setting up the right contracts. They will safeguard your business and give you peace of mind.
Whether you sell a product with only two employees on staff or run a large organisation, having the correct contracts in place is crucial. You, your business and your employees will be safeguarded by this forethought. Even in the event of litigation, you’ll have nothing to worry about!