January 2013 - Planning your business year ahead? 8 points to think about


Business Law Update
January 2013

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It’s that time of year when many people take the opportunity of what for many businesses is the seasonal lull to review and plan for the year ahead, so I’ve put together some points which I think it would be useful for you to consider concerning your business contracts and contracting procedures.

1. Are your business contracts up to date? Were your business contract documents drawn up specifically for your company’s main business areas? If you haven’t reviewed them for some time, or can’t recall the last time they were checked over, the chances are that a thorough review now would be time well spent. If this might apply to your business, have a look at Is your business working with contracts that are past their ‘best before’ date?  and Are your business contracts overdue for a check up?

2. Have you started working with a new supplier or taken on a new customer or client? If so there are a number of areas that you should address, particularly if your business is presented with a contract to sign. For some pointers see New customer or supplier? How to manage your risks ,  7 points to consider about your business contracts – are they fit for purpose?  and Bullet points to written agreement – is it OK to sign? 

3. Do you have contracting procedures in place which make sure that your documents are used and are the ones which apply to contracts which your business enters into? Have a look at Can you rely on your terms of business to provide legal protection?  and Beware contracting by email 

4. Are you planning to sell your business or take in an investor or business partner in the foreseeable future? These are all areas which would benefit from some preparations in advance. See Onwards and upwards: preparing your business for the future.

5. If your plans include taking in a new shareholder, or if you already have one or more business partners in your limited company, make sure you have the situation covered by an appropriate shareholders’ agreement. Still wondering if it’s necessary? Then have a look at 3 good reasons why you need a shareholders’ agreement and Going into business with friends or family? - Has your business got a ‘pre-nup’ agreement? and my article Why do you need a shareholders’ agreement?

6. Is your business based on new ideas? If so, check they are protected before you disclose them. Depending on the type of business you may need other commercial terms to maximise the benefit of your product or service, but you need to make sure the idea is protected from the outset so that your business doesn’t lose out. For more information look at You’ve got a great business idea – are you going to give it away for free?  and Getting to grips with the importance of non disclosure agreements.

7. If you provide consultancy or other services on a self-employed basis you should be protected by an appropriate contract. Advice to consultants on getting the contract right will give you some key areas to consider.

8. If you use consultants or self-employed contractors in your business, there are areas in which your business could be exposed if you do not have suitable agreements in place. There is some more information in Do you work with independent contractors?, Is the contractor your business uses really self-employed?,  Using consultants in your business: 10 points you should consider and my article Using contractors? You need an agreement. Here’s why.

If as a result of considering the above points you find there are areas in which your business might be exposed then please include an action in your plans for the business to plug those gaps. After all, you want the results of your hard work to be rewarded rather than at risk. I can help with any of these issues, so that you can concentrate on your business. If you would like to discuss anything in relation to your business contracts please contact me, Sue Mann.

Sue Mann

Business Contracts Solicitor, Birmingham
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The Cousins Business Law Team

Gary Cousins
Sue Mann
Nigel Musgrove
Steve Petty
Gary Cousins Dispute Resolution Solicitor

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Sue Mann Commercial Solicitor
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Nigel Musgrove Licensing & Dispute Management Solicitor
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Steve Petty Commercial Property Solicitor
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Cousins Business Law is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority under number 485128. Head Office: Swan House PO Box 11543, Birmingham, B13 0ZL. Tel +44 (0)121 778 3212. Fax: +44(0)121 275 6155