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Posts Tagged ‘Legal advice’

Clients not paying on time or refusing to pay?

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015

Overdue payments

If so, ask yourself this: Do your clients actually know when they need to pay you or are you assuming they do!

Check through these three easy steps:

1. State your terms BEFORE you provide the goods or services– this may seem obvious but many businesses do not actually tell their customers when they want to be paid! I had a client call me up for help because she was owed money by a customer who was refusing to pay.When I asked her to send me a copy of her Terms of Business, turns out she didn’t have any! She had sent out beautifully coloured proposals setting out her services and the price, but no actual statement of when it was payable or what would happen if they were late paying.

2. Check your invoices– do they clearly set out:

  • Payment terms e.g. ” Payable within 14 days from date of invoice”
  • Your bank account details
  • That interest is chargeable if client is late paying
  • Link back to your Terms of Business?

3. If all else fails, sue! If the amount you are owed is less than £100,000 and you have done everything possible to get it back, you can actually take the client to court yourself online without involving a lawyer.Check out the new Money Claim Online service, offered by HM Courts & Tribunal Service. It costs from as little as £25 for claims up to £300.

If the customer does not pay or defend the case, you get judgment against the customer and can then enforce it. Most customers do not want to have a judgment against their name as it will affect their credit ratings if they want to borrow money, not to mention the overall black mark it creates on all sorts of records.

If you need help with drafting your Terms of Business or would prefer us to handle the claims process, contact us now.

“Advergames” are subject to regulation too

Monday, June 4th, 2012

As you must be aware, businesses have started to advertise their products via computer games on their websites, and also on social media websites and as downloadable content or apps on mobile devices.  If you too are thinking of developing an “advergame” in order to advertise your goods or services, please note that as with any other on-line advertisement, you must abide by the CAP Code (the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing).

In 2008 for example, The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) investigated a football game available on the free games website Mousebreaker.  The game in question featured Carling lager branding, and was linked to the Carling lager website.  Carling’s parent company, Coors, had paid for the link.  The game, it turned out, was effectively an advert for an alcohol brand, and because over 25% of Mousebreaker’s audience is under the age of 18, it was held to breach Rule 18.15 of the CAP Code.

If you have any concerns or queries regarding the legality of your marketing strategies, please contact Jo Tall at jo@offtoseemylawyer.com.

Will Singapore become the “entrepreneurship capital” of South East Asia?

Monday, May 28th, 2012

There are various reasons why entrepreneurship has not traditionally thrived in Asia.  Relatively speaking, US culture regards failure in business as a positive part of the learning process, and therefore Americans are more inclined to take risks.  Asian culture, however, is less forgiving of failure.  In addition, Hugh Mason (Chief Executive of Joyful Frog Digital Incubator (JFDI)) explains that the traditional method in Asian schools is “all about getting the right answer”, and that “being smart sometimes weighs against entrepreneurship”.

Traditionally Singapore has been considered by many in the business world as a gateway to South East Asia, as it represents a relatively small market of five million people.  Investors often choose to temporarily place their money in Singapore before investing in larger markets in the region such as Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.  However Angel investors and venture capital funds are increasingly seeking investment opportunities in Singapore itself.

A growing number of educational institutions are running entrepreneurship programmes and providing mentoring opportunities; and the Singaporean government are actively removing regulatory barriers in a bid to encourage entrepreneurship.  Ron Mahabir (found of Asia Cleantech Capital) states that “While the government has done a great job of loans and grant programmes, culturally it’s very difficult to push entrepreneurship very quickly.”  Change, however, is undoubtedly underway in Singapore.  In fact, according to the WorldBank, Singapore ranks at Number One in the world “for ease of doing business, and Number Four “for starting a business”.

Singapore-based JFDI is working in partnership with SingTel [a subsidiary of a major telecommunications company] to run an accelerator programme for start-ups from around Asia.  This program allocates start-up teams from around the South East Asia with mentorship from experienced entrepreneurs and specialists for 100 days, after which the start-ups can pitch to investors.  Wong Meng Weng (who helped start JFDI) says, “I see Singapore as the technology and start-up capital of South East Asia, not unlike the US where you recruit from around the world and get them to come into Silicon Valley”.

The Recession can be Good for You!

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

Founded by husband and wife Juliette and Russel Joffe in 1998, the restaurant chain Giraffe has not only thrived throughout recent economic crises; rather, Mr Joffe insists the recession “has been positive for us”.  He states, “It has enabled us to review our strategy.  This is an opportune time to review your business – and aspects that you might forget in good times.”

The Joffes’ advice for not only surviving but possibly benefiting from times of austerity, are as follows:

Get best supply prices:

“We have gone back to some of our original mission statements; reviewing our staffing, talking to suppliers to get the best prices”

Run a tight ship, but don’t let this compromise the quality of your products or services:

“We don’t cut corners or cut costs.  Everyone has to run a tighter business today.  The ones that cut corners and costs are the ones that will suffer long-term because standards of service will decline.  You need to keep the investment and innovation going. It is important that people see you moving forward rather than stagnating.”

Give customers a good deal:

We have also been offering vouchers and deals. It’s the norm today. When people go out to eat, they think: ‘Where is there a voucher?’ We have been focusing on our service and offering customers the best value for money that we can”

We are producing a better bottom-line profit by running a better business. We haven’t let go of any staff as such, just increased sales and not overheads.”

Is your promotional material legal?

Monday, May 21st, 2012

As many of Off To See My Lawyer clients are running businesses related to the health industry, we thought you may be interested to hear the outcome of a particular recent Advertising Standards Agency enquiry.  Six complaints were made about the claims of Miruji Health & Wellbeing’s product “Sit & Slim”.  Miruji Health & Wellbeing had made claims in an advertisement in the local press, and on their website, that their “slimming and therapeutic massage chair and programme” had been clinically proven by the NHS to induce weight loss, relieve stress, and lower blood pressure.  It even went on to say that the chair could provide a solution to obesity.

The ASA established that there had in fact been no formal NHS clinical research.  A casual study had taken place at a mental health hospital among staff participating in a free trial.  The hospital in question did not treat obesity.  Therefore this aspect of the advertising claims being made by Miruji Health & Wellbeing was a misleading endorsement, and as such held to breach two of the CAP Codes.

With regards the claims that the chair could treat high blood pressure, the ASA considered that high blood pressure is “a medical condition for which advice, guidance and treatment should only be conducted under the supervision of a suitably qualified health professional”.  The advertisements therefore also breached one of the CAP Codes (- in this case, the “Medicines, medical devices, health-related products and beauty products” rule).

On the subject of obesity treatment, and the claims that customers could lose weight using the chair and programme alone – the advertisements were held to have breached the CAP Code relating to “weight control and slimming”.

If you have any concerns about the legality of your own advertisements or the claims you make in your promotional material, please contact Jo Tall via jo@offtoseemylawyer.com and she will provide you with appropriate advice relating to the CAP Codes, and any other legal issues that require consideration.

Event: Be Creative Workshop

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

Joe Sinclair (Creative Director of Burson-Marsteller) will lead a workshop on Tuesday 22 May 2012 from 17:30 to 19:00 on the subject of creativity in business.  The session will explain:

  • Why creative campaigns are so engaging
  • How to harness creativity effectively and apply it to your business needs
  • Best practice examples of creative campaigns achieving results

Address: Central St Giles, 1 St Giles High St, London WC2H 8AG

To book, please visit: http://www.eventbrite.com/event/2873882861

Female Entrepreneur Focus: Gennese Williams

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

The test for a true entrepreneur is to see whether the person in question has turned an adverse situation into a successful enterprise.

When Gennese Williams lost the sight of both her eyes in 2007, she decided she could no longer work for anyone again.  Far from burning her bridges, however, she built upon her existing experience in beauty, music and management to start her own business, MGW London.  She merrily believes in the mantras, “What you think you are worthy of, is what you will attract”; and “You change your reality when you change your mentality”.  In addition, when times are especially difficult, she recommends taking a break and “switching off from everyone” in order to recharge one’s motivation and creativity.

MGW London is an ambitious management and business consultancy agency.  In addition it has its own in-house production, make up, hair stylists and fashion stylists’ team, and a graphic design team (run by her brother); and together they provide a range of services to manage events, projects and brands.

Ms Williams says that the most effective way of attracting clients is by word of mouth and personal recommendations.  In addition she favours social media as it gives prospective clients “the freedom to check me out before they approach us”.

Her advice to other business owners is to remain dedicated to clients; to “be professional at all times, master your craft and listen to your clients’ needs”; and to “always be steps ahead to achieve the best and don’t sleep until you know the job is complete for that day”.

Can you afford to start up your own business?

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

If you have any misgivings about whether you can afford to start up and run a business, Jo Tall will happily meet you for a preliminary consultation.  Off To See My Lawyer are proud to have successfully helped launch many small businesses – but equally we take pride in our honest and realistic advice.  If we consider that you will be taking too many risks (– financial or otherwise) we will let you know.

Here is a non-exhaustive checklist to help you assess whether you can afford to start a new business:

  1. Off To See My Lawyer provide an extremely cost effective service, but please consider whether you are able to afford legal advice.
  2. You may wish to pay for other professional advice, such as from an accountant, or a web designer, and/or advice from PR experts.
  3. You may require professional assistance in order to draft your initial business plan, and/or business plan software.
  4. Most banks incur a small fee in order to open a business account.
  5. As you would expect, there are fees incurred for incorporating a business into a company; for registering a trade mark; for registering yourself as a data controller; etc.  And you may need to purchase certain licenses and permits in order to run your particular business.
  6. You may wish to insure your business or assets.  Premium rates are variable.
  7. If you wish to rent or buy the premises from which you will run your business, you will need to consider these costs – as well as utilities bills.
  8. The costs involved in promoting your business will add up.  For example – stationery and printing; professional branding/advertising advice; etc.
  9. Machinery and equipment, and IT systems are pricey but necessary assets.
  10. It very much depends on the type of business you are running – but you may need to pay for materials from which to manufacture your products, or stock for wholesale.
  11. Of course, once your business is up and running, you cannot pocket every incoming penny, as there are various taxes to be paid!

While the intended outcome of employing staff is to increase your profits, employees add to your list of burdens and liabilities.  You will need to draft contracts of employment, deal with relevant taxation issues, invest in time (and perhaps money) in training your staff, etc.

Are you being paid on time?

Monday, May 14th, 2012

The lawyers at Off To See My Lawyer draft contracts for the sale of goods and provision of services, which protect the liability of our clients and their businesses; and in-so-doing we make sure we abide by any laws that safeguard consumers’ rights.  A well-drafted contract, however, is not necessarily the end of the story.

The Forum for Private Business lobby group recently surveyed 500 small businesses, and found that 16% have nearly had to close, due to late payments by customers.  51% stated that late payment was a problem for them.  Many small businesses rely upon their customers to pay on time, in order for them to be able to pay their own suppliers.  In cases where payment to the suppliers has been delayed in this way, 45% of the businesses surveyed said their profits had eroded as a result; and 23% said it had limited their ability to invest.

Gordon Skaljak (Spokesman for credit insurer Graydon), suggested that legislation needs to be changed in order to protect small businesses: “The business community and the government must join forces to protect companies by stamping out the UK’s late payment culture.”

One small business owner, Gordon Bennie (of Blue Orchid) contacted his local MP, (Michael Comarty) after experiencing cashflow problems when his customers had failed to pay on time.  The pair have been working with the Forum for Private Business, and together they successfully initiated a meeting at the House of Commons (on 25 April 2012) between officials from the Department for Business, and representatives of the Labour party, Lloyds Banking Group and various other professional bodies.  Of course, legislation takes time to draft and implement, so we cannot expect a positive change any time soon.

If your business has been suffering due to late payment by a customer (or indeed by another business), please contact Off To See My Lawyer and we can advise you on ways to enforce the contract by demanding payment, without the need for litigation.

Event: Business Expo

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

17 & 18 May 2012 – ExCel London

This event has been designed to provide advice and support on all aspects of starting, developing and running one’s business – such as branding; “cloud ICT”; financial matters; marketing; business planning; E-commerce; Google; and mentoring.  Features include one-to-one advice; “speed networking”; talks; seminars; and workshops.

For more information, please visit: http://www.businessexpo.biz/