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Time for a legal spring clean? 6 tips for your business in 2018

23 January 2018

From tidying up your data processes in time for the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) through to staying one step ahead of cyber criminals, we share some tips for a ‘legal spring clean’ that can help keep your business on the right side of the law this year.

1.    GDPR is coming – don’t bury your head in the sand!

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past year, you’re probably well aware of the impending General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Set to shake up the way businesses process and hold data, the GDPR comes into force on 25 May this year and preparing for it is likely to be high up on your agenda. A considerable amount has been written on GDPR but, as a starting point, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) website is a good source of the latest guidance. To help develop strong governance controls to secure compliance, contact us.

2.    Prepare your business for the unexpected

It’s something that no-one wants to think about, but if you are a business owner and you were to unexpectedly lose capacity, your business could find itself experiencing financial and operational difficulties. A lasting power of attorney (LPA) can be put in place to ensure that the correct person has authority to make decisions on your behalf, if you are unable to make those decisions yourself. If there is no LPA in force and you were to lose capacity, the court may have to get involved. This would be a lengthy and expensive process, and could make it extremely difficult for the business to continue to operate. Contact our wills, probate and trusts team for advice.

3.    Take a fresh look at your employment documentation

When was the last time you reviewed or amended your organisation’s employment documentation? Employment law is constantly evolving, so now is an ideal time to take stock of your employment contracts, documentation and staff handbooks. Get in touch with our employment law team, who can scrutinise them and amend where necessary. This will help you to keep on the right side of employment law, protect your business when facing disputes, and adapt to the ever-changing nature of working relationships.

 4.    Think ahead to Brexit – will your contracts hold up?

If your business is entering into new contracts or re-negotiating existing ones, it’s never too early to consider the potential implications of Brexit. Failure to do so may mean that your company is tied into a contract which, post-Brexit, it is no longer able to perform or which is no longer of any commercial benefit to the company. It could even find itself in breach of contract or facing termination for default and an action for damages.

Since the actual impact of Brexit is still uncertain, it is unlikely that a contract could be drafted to cover every eventuality. However, where appropriate, certain provisions could be used to help protect you from adverse consequences. Contact our corporate & commercial lawyers for advice – ‘DIY’ is rarely the best option when it comes to contracts!

5.    Get a shareholders’ agreement

Whether you are a small company with two, or a larger business with multiple shareholders, it is impossible to overstate the importance of having a properly drafted shareholders’ agreement. If you don’t have one already, then now is an ideal time.

We must stress that an agreement does not guarantee that disputes between shareholders will be avoided. It does, however, provide shareholders with a security blanket, giving them assurance that if ever a problem arises they have a point of reference which is likely to protect their interests.

6.    Stay safe in the age of cyber-crime

Cyber-crime made many headlines last year and the ever-evolving nature of the threat makes it more important than ever to protect your business. The potential consequences of a cyber attack on your business are far-reaching, ranging from reputational damage through to the loss of intellectual property. A thorough risk management policy, adequate insurance, an incident response plan, solid network security and staff training are just a few of the many ways to reduce the risks to your business from falling victim to cyber criminals.

Our multi-disciplinary legal teams handle corporate, commercial, employment, litigation and property issues all day, every day helping companies large and small with complex business decisions.

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Disclaimer: All legal information is correct at the time of publication but please be aware that laws may change over time. This article contains general legal information but should not be relied upon as legal advice. Please seek professional legal advice about your specific situation - contact us; we’d be delighted to help.
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