Business laws and regulation exist to provide a framework in which commerce can thrive while protecting the interests of all involved. Legislation is designed to stop businesses from being harmed by the illegal acts of competitors, customers, suppliers, employees and even government and to ensure businesses themselves treat their employees, customers and others fairly.
Complying with business law
Complying with every rule and regulation might seem intimidating if you're about to start up a new business. For obvious reasons, some types of business and sectors are more heavily regulated than others.The information on this website is intended purely as an overview of key laws that apply to small firms. If ever in any doubt, seek professional legal advice.
Many businesses will need to start off by looking into the licences and registrations they might need to operate legally. Making sure your business is properly insured is essential to protect yourself, your staff and customers. It is also important you take into account the health, safety and environmental regulatory regime. You must also comply with discrimination legislation (see below).
You'll also need to know about intellectual property (IP), which includes protecting copyright, trade marks or designs - and ensuring you're respecting other businesses' rights. There are even legal restrictions about naming a business.
If you retain hard copy or electronic information/data about employees, customers or suppliers, you must have their consent and only use it for the purpose for which it was obtained. To comply with the Data Protection Act, the information must be accurate, current, kept securely and should only be held as long as necessary. Learn more on the Information Commissioner's Office website.
Taking on staff is a key moment in any new business and there are rules you must follow when recruiting, interviewing or dismissing employees. Find out what you're legally obliged to do when you take on staff, including contracts and other employment regulations, in our Employment section.
If you're about to start up, it's a really good idea to read through our employment law resources to make sure you're aware of what will apply to you - now and as your business grows.