Business & Commercial Law

Business and commercial law is a broad area which, in simple terms, relates to the rules that affect business and commerce. Business owners can develop an understanding of commercial law just from the day-to-day activities of running a business. There are some areas of business law, however, where it is wise to seek specialised legal advice, because the stakes are high.

Whether you are starting a new business, looking for a business lawyer to assist with a commercial dispute, or planning to buy or sell a business, we can help. We have a depth of experience and offer practical legal solutions to individuals, small businesses, and SMEs across a range of industries.

How can we help you and your business?

Business structures: If you are establishing a new business, we can help make sure that you are setting the business up soundly, whether by partnership, joint venture, company, trust, or franchise. The legal structure you choose for your business will depend on important factors including the size of your operations, the people involved, your plans for future growth and expansion, and the industry in which you operate.

Business sales and purchases: If you have decided to buy a business or if you are looking to sell your business, there are many things to consider. Not only will you need to negotiate the terms of the sale agreement, but you need to take into account any incidental agreements, such as leases or service agreements, consider GST and other tax implications, and make sure that any staff arrangements comply with your legal obligations. You will also need to have real figures to complete to disclosure requirements.

Restructuring: Sometimes, the legal structure of a business may need to change, and we can help you navigate this process and explain the legal issues involved. Restructuring can be a positive landmark, such as when a sole trader becomes so successful that it makes more sense to transition into a company structure.

Unfortunately, restructuring may also occur because a business is underperforming or struggling with profitability. A corporate restructure can modify any aspect of the financial and/or operational aspects of the business – by definition, a restructure is a change that transforms the business in a discernible way. As such a restructure can involve the sale of property, closure of enterprises, debt restructuring, and/or redundancies, and you should seek professional advice early in the planning phase.

Business contracts: Business transactions and agreements should be documented in a compliant binding agreement that clearly sets out the rights and responsibilities of the parties. We can prepare or review all types of legal contracts including supply agreements, service agreements, distribution agreements, and partnership agreements. We will ensure that the contract terms and conditions are suitable for your business now and into the future and that due diligence standards are met. Remember you need to have your own credit contracts for people and companies doing business with you to protect you.

Consumer law: If you sell goods or services as a manufacturer, wholesaler, or retailer, it is important to understand your obligations under the Australian Consumer Law. This is a national law designed to protect consumers from things such as faulty products, inferior service, and misleading advertising. One of the most notable parts of this law is a guarantee that if goods are not fit for purpose the customer will be refunded, or the product repaired or replaced.

Corporations law: Corporate law is focused on the governance and regulation of businesses, in particular the rules contained in the Corporations Act. This legislation sets out strict rules for how you start, run, and close a company. Some smaller companies may fall into the trap of thinking that the rules for a business only apply to large corporations. This is not the case. Every incorporated and unincorporated association or entity in Australia must comply with the Corporations Act, and the directors of the company have serious obligations to discharge their responsibilities under the legislation. We can explain your duties as a director, draft and advise on shareholder agreements, and provide advice on corporate governance, and company administrations.

Copyright, trademarks and patents: We can assist you manage and enforce your intellectual property rights, including litigation, where needed. We can also help you with registering designs, patents and trademarks.

Workplace and employment: Employment law sets out the legal rules that govern relationships at work. All employees should be familiar with their work rights, and all business owners and managers need an understanding of employment law to ensure that they meet their obligations to their employees and team members. We can draw up or review employment contracts and workplace agreements as well as assist with disputes and unfair dismissals. We can also help with occupational health and safety issues and have an expert advisor in this area available to consult with you.

Debt recovery: Pursuing unpaid debts is an unpleasant but necessary part of your business operations. If somebody owes your business money, you might want advice on what your options are to get the debt paid. We can help you find a cost effective and appropriate strategy to get the money back. This might include sending a letter of demand or a statutory demand, negotiating a payment plan, or seeking judgment for the debt in the appropriate court.

Finance: We can draft and review mortgages, guarantees, charges and other securities documentation and provide advice on GST, Capital Gains and Land Tax. Our principal has been a panel solicitor for St George Bank preparing their residential mortgages and various commercial loan transactions.

Business succession and asset protection: You need a plan in place to make sure that your business and personal assets are protected. We can work with your business and family to devise a strategy that keeps your hard-earned assets safe through unit, discretionary, testamentary and family trusts, Wills and/or Powers of Attorney.

Partnering with your legal professionals

Our focus is ensuring that your business has ready access to the legal advice it needs – just like being a part of your organisation but working in another room.  Your business structure at the beginning does not need to be big and expensive, it just needs to work and be capable of evolving as your business grows. From your start-up through to business succession and everything in between, we will work with you as your business partner and part of your team.

If you need assistance, contact one of our lawyers at [email protected] or call 03 5747 8251 for expert legal advice.