Business Legal Advice

A selection of illustrations and print designs on a wall.
Photograph by Ivan Jones

Here you will find practical advice on business law. This includes links to useful legal advice and legal aid organisations. You will also find information on writing and signing contracts as a freelancer or start-up business.

Legal advice

For contractual and legal matters, you may wish to contact the following organisations:

  • Artquest/Artlaw: a useful website for visual artists and craftspeople for any arts-related legal information.
  • Interface: for legal advice on setting up a charity or other non-for-profit structures.
  • LawWorks: LawWorks Clinics are free legal advice sessions providing initial advice and helping you decide what action you need to take. The advisers are volunteers who give their time free of charge and they will not be able to take on your case. If you need further help, the lawyers will refer you to agencies that specialise in dealing with your particular problem. 

There are over 50 LawWorks Clinics nationwide providing advice on a variety of issues. Find your nearest LawWorks Clinic (London clinics can be found here). ACAS: The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service improves working life through better employment relations.
  • The University of Law - This pro bono legal advice centre offers a range of free legal advice services ranging from employment and housing law issues to consumer and business legal advice. After an interview or telephone assessment, student advisors provide written advice under the strict supervision of qualified professionals. For a list of contact details visit the website. For general enquiries email the university's advice service.
  • BPP legal advice clinic: BPP University offers a free advice service for family, residential property, landlord and tenant issues and other civil matters. Student advisors take the details of your case. They will then research the issue at hand, supervised by qualified legal professionals, and provide a letter of advice. To contact BPP Legal Advice Clinic call 020 7430 5668 (residential property law/landlord and tenant) email BPP. General legal advice is also provided by the Law School's branches in Leeds (0113 386 8257) and Manchester (0161 235 7180 or email the Manchester branch.)
  • Queen Mary University Legal Advice Centre: These sessions are for clients with concerns relating to their creative work. The Centre provides them with written legal advice and research on their case that they may not otherwise be able to afford, under the supervision of volunteer lawyers. To book an appointment visit their website and complete an enquiries form.

A more comprehensive list of providers of free legal advice can be found on the Own-it website.

Own-it also provides a list of mediation services, which are a cheaper, less time-consuming and in most cases, more amicable way of solving disputes with another party.


The basics

A contract is formed if there is an offer with clear terms and conditions, an acceptance of the offer and a necessary 'consideration'. The consideration is something that is either a benefit to the person providing goods or services or a loss to the person giving it, for example handing over money.

The consideration, say a sum of money, does not have to be of the same value of the item bought or service offered. This means that a valid contract is formed as long as you pay something for the product or service.

Contracts can be oral or in writing. There must be an intention by both parties to enter into a legal relationship. Any licensing agreement, online ticket sale, arrangement with a builder or supermarket sale is a contractual arrangement.

Writing a contract

Put a contract in writing before you start any work or commission another person to do work for you. This will help you uncover any misunderstandings and negotiate better terms if you are not happy with terms provided to you.

If you are commissioned, you can summarise your agreement in an email and send it to the other party. Include clear terms and conditions and the sum the other party is to pay for your services. Then it could form a valid contract that you can enforce.

Receiving a contract

If you receive a contract to sign, remember that contracts are open for negotiation. You don’t have to accept clauses that put you at a big disadvantage.

Never sign a contract if you are not sure that you understand its terms and conditions. It is better to ask the other party for more time and seek legal advice before you sign.

You should provide your customers or clients with your own terms and conditions, which shows them that you are a professional and know about your business.