There are lots of crucial nitty-gritty elements to starting your business, including key legal documents which could help you avoid pitfalls in the long run, from customer disputes to employee claims and the illegal disclosure of your company’s confidential information.

Here are 5 key documents to have when starting a business:-

1.Business Terms and Conditions

Your business’ terms and conditions are critical to its long-term success and can be applied to sales or services. They should be clearly worded and easy to understand, specifically outlining the responsibilities that apply to you and your customers, including payment terms and ownership of products or services prior to payment.

Not only do ‘T&Cs’ portray your company as professional, but they also protect your rights and those of your customers, allowing you to redress and protect yourself from liability should anything go wrong.

2. Website Terms and Conditions

When launching your business’ website, the terms and conditions should always be included on the website and accessible via a link in the footer of every web page. For e-commerce websites, there are strict regulations on what must be included in the terms and conditions. For example, full details on your company’s returns, the order and delivery process, refunds, and losses policies must be given, as well as any disclaimers limiting your liability.

3. Privacy Policy

To ensure compliance with the Data Protection Act, you must include a clear, simple privacy policy on your website explaining what data will be gathered, how and why that data will be used, and how your website uses cookies. This is especially important for e-commerce websites where sensitive credit card information is being submitted.

4. Employee Contracts and Handbooks

Issuing an employee handbook can prove immensely useful for your business, as it will outline all of the practices and procedures to be followed by your employees, laying the foundation for agreeable professional relationships and smooth business operations. Handbooks should clearly state your company’s health and safety policy, your equal opportunities policy, and disciplinary and grievance procedures.

Employers in the UK are legally required to provide employees with a written statement of their employment terms within two months of their start date. However, this doesn’t offer as much protection for either the employer or employee as a comprehensive employee contract.

5. Any Relevant Licences

Depending on your industry, your business may require various licences in order to comply with the relevant regulatory bodies. This means first finding out whether you need a licence, registering with the appropriate regulatory body in order to use your professional title and carry out your business. For example, private landlords and letting agents require a licence from their council to rent out Houses in Multiple Occupation where a house has been converted into flats for several occupants.

Businesses involved in food and drink, hospitality, healthcare, and finance also usually require a licence, as do any businesses selling alcohol.

Failing to properly register your business and acquire a licence could incur severe penalties, which could cripple your business, so it’s essential that you consult a qualified lawyer to have the necessary licences in place for your business.

No matter how inconvenient or cumbersome it may seem to get all of your legal paperwork in order, these documents are the building blocks of your business that will allow it to thrive while protecting you from the risk of penalties or liabilities later on.

For more information, or for expert advice on business or personal legal issues, call us on 020 3475 6751 or via email at

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