It’s already halfway through January and before we know it, we will be into February as the days and months escape our calendars. I thought a great start to the year would be to set out four key legal areas that can be addressed in your business as a great way to start the 2016 year.
It’s very easy to fall into old habits of working reactively, that is, responding to phone calls, emails, putting out fires and dealing with the immediate and urgent matters at hand in your business. I find that by putting a little time and effort into pre-planning for some of the legal issues that can crop up in your business, my clients can easily win back precious hours, save some stress and free up some time to focus on growing and working on (rather than in) their business.
- Consider what contracts are coming up for renewal or expiry – having the contracts in your business clearly visible (perhaps even just an excel spreadsheet) and knowing when they are coming up for renewal or expiry can allow you to plan for these events. Do you need to start having discussions with suppliers before the expiry to plan whether you will renew or do you need to look for a new supplier this year? (see our previous blog post on Contract Renewals)
- This year the unfair contract terms to protect small businesses will come into force. These changes to the Australian Consumer Law and the ASIC Act will have a significant impact on the way that businesses contract with each other. The new law has a 12 month transition period and an additional 6 months to review contracts – trust me, this will be over before we know it! Under the new law, if the contract falls within the definition of a small business contract unfair terms in standard contracts will be void. This means that the court can ignore the ‘unfair’ term and the rest of the contact will remain enforceable. This can have the unwanted effect of binding you to a contract that you would not have otherwise entered. It’s a good idea to look at all your standard form contracts, whether they are wholesale terms, supply terms, leases, service agreements, licenses or loans to ensure that they will be enforceable and that you won’t get any nasty surprises once the new laws are enforced.
- Consider what contracts you seem to be doing over and over again. Are you often scrambling to put together a confidentiality agreement or supply terms? Take the time to develop some great, user friendly precedents that your business can readily access when required to save time and ensure that you are contracting on terms that have been carefully considered and are appropriate to your business.