Intellectual property advice
Get online advice about intellectual property, including copyright, patents, trademarks and Creative Commons.
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.
For contractual and legal matters, you may wish to contact the following organisations:
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.
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.
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.
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.