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Legal Issues When Running a Business

When you are running your business, you want to be focused on doing what makes you money, and not worrying about legal issues and other such things.

This section covers a number of different legal matters that might come up while you are running your business.

Business contracts

Whatever your line of work is, you will likely have to deal with contracts, whether they are with suppliers, customers, or other parties with which you have dealings. Poorly written contracts can lead to disputes and negative consequences for all involved parties – our guidance on business contracts can give you an idea of how to make sure all of your contracts are legally sound.


Poor cybersecurity can have legal ramifications for your business, particularly if sensitive data on your customers is stolen – this could be a breach of data protection law, leading to fines (not to mention damage to your business’s reputation).

Our Cybersecurity section details the more common cybersecurity pitfalls, such as unencrypted data and insecure passwords, and tells you how you can keep your business safe.

Selling goods and services

When your business sells goods and services, you have a legal responsibility to your customers to provide these goods or services without misleading them.

This legal responsibility is enshrined mainly in the Sale of Goods Act 1979 and the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982. This obliges all sellers and service providers to make sure that their products or services are fit for purpose, of satisfactory quality and are provided as you describe them.

Depending on your business, you may need to comply with other rules – for example, online businesses will need to comply with Distance Selling Regulations.

Intellectual property and patents

Your business is likely to own intellectual property of some sort, whether on products or designs that the business owns or just the name and logo of your brand.

How your rights over intellectual property work will depend on what property it is – for example, a product or a process would be protected by a patent, which you would need to register with the Intellectual Property Office (IPO).

Trade marks, which you can use to protect your rights to use of your company’s name and logos, would also be registered with the IPO. Copyright, another form of intellectual property you might use, is protected automatically without you needing to register it.

Succession planning and selling a business

We can even give you some advice for when you are planning to pass command of the business to someone, whether by selling the business or appointing an appropriate successor.

Deciding which of these you would prefer is an important decision – by hand-picking your successor, you can have more of a say in how the business will be run when you are no longer in charge, which may be important if the business was a labour of love.

Of course, selling the business has its financial benefits – the money you make from selling could provide for your retirement, or for you to start another business.

Other legal topics that may interest you