Commercial Law – what is it and why should I care?
Commercial law is a bit of an obsession here at Ferguson Legal – so we’ll break it down for the regular folk!
We think you (as a person) and you (as a company) should have just a basic understanding of what it is, then you’ll know when to call us. We’ve made you a cheat sheet so grab a coffee and have a read – and save it somewhere for reference too.
This part of commercial law is relevant to everyday life.
It protects the rights of individual consumers against the businesses selling them services or products.It also aims to ensure fair trade amongst competing businesses and prevent fraud. It was a form of government regulation, was overseen in the UK by the Office of Fair Trading, but this has now shut. Where you go to complain or get help will depend on the issues involved.
This is relevant to all businesses. It deals with the nature of companies and their relationship to shareholders. It governs who precisely owns a business and who is legally and financially liable for it.
This is definitely the fun part for us. It relates to the binding voluntary agreement of two or more parties who effectively promise that something will or will not happen.
It can be tricky though, because contracts can be undertaken in writing, verbally or through conduct. Acceptance of, and competence to undertake, contracts can be contested.
This governs the relationship between employers and employees, often mediated by government regulations and trade union pressure. There are many rules involved in this area and many require assistance at all stages to get it right.
Intellectual property (IP)
This is a hugely important part of commercial law. Laws in this area govern the exclusive rights of persons or businesses to creations of the mind.
In business terms, this generally involves copyright, trademarks and design rights.
Trade practices (or competition law)
This essentially affects ‘anti-competition’ business practices. It relates to government regulations which are used to prevent business cartels and ensure free trade.
Whatever your commercial activity, you need to understand contracts and the regulations which cover the sales and purchases of your business. Every time you make a sale or a purchase, you enter into a contract.
Understanding how contracts work can help you avoid the most common pitfalls that catch out smaller businesses. We strongly recommend you prepare standard terms and conditions – this allows you to use contracts to your advantage.
How do I identify which commercial law is relevant to me and my business?
Many trade associations offer information or training on specific legal issues faced by their industry.
If you know you need specialist advice in a particular area, consider finding a local expert. Remember to get a detailed quote before committing.
Business support organisations
Check for free or subsidized training with Business Gateway, Scottish Enterprise and other similar organisations.
Is there an area of the law you’d like explained? Drop us an email: email@example.com