Business Legal Advice
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:
- Artquest/Artlaw: a useful website for visual artists and craftspeople for any arts-related legal information.
- 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 including business legal advice. After an interview or telephone assessment, student advisors provide written advice under the strict supervision of qualified professionals. Visit their website for a list of contact details. For general enquiries email the university's advice service.
- 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.
When undertaking work on a project basis it is useful to get a written agreement signed by you and the client. This should include: where you’ll work; job title and scope; time it will take, and your daily fee or project rate.
If you are creating an entire project for a client, such as a website for a new business, then it needs to include much more information. Including details such as how many sets of amends you are including in your fee, will help to ensure that the project remains profitable. It’s also important to include a statement on the ownership (copyright) of the work and where else you will be able to show the finished work, e.g. in your portfolio.
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.