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The Top Commercial Law Services Providers in South Africa

We review the Top Commercial Law Service Services. Before subscribing to a legal plan to protect your business and save money, consider the following.

Commercial Law Services
30th ,Jun, 2022
Review
Compare Our Best Picks
Lacoona - Best for cost savings
  • SME Packages
  • Automated document drafting
  • Lawyer matching
  • Free resources
Legalese - Best for tech and creative businesses
  • Tech law
  • Entertainment and media law
  • Intellectual property registration
  • Tax services
Introduction

One of the most common pitfalls for small business owners starting out is not getting the right advice from the start, because they think the right advice costs a lot of money. It is, however, critical that small business owners should seek out the help of professionals as a mistake in any of these areas such as tax and commercial law can be expensive.

Some of the common legal issues and requirements that small businesses will face include reviewing contracts to protect their company, handle contractor or supplier disputes, internet security breaches, product liability issues, employee theft, tax audits, employee confidentiality issues, and threats of customer lawsuits.

The good news for SMEs is that we are seeing more commercial law service providers that offer legal services and packages specifically suited for the needs of small businesses.

There is a move towards freelance, value-based and on-demand flexibility for legal services rather than time-based, bill-by-the-hour. This has resulted in lawyers charging more affordable rates, allowing entrepreneurs and startups who previously were unable to afford legal services until now, the ability to obtain quality legal services at a fraction of the cost.

Main Features

Whether you need just basic company registration services or more complex legal services, here are some of the services offered by commercial law service providers.

Basic company registration

Get help registering your business with the CIPC (with or without name reservation). Other basic services you can request from a commercial law service provider are a custom drafted shareholders agreement or memorandum of incorporation, BEE Affidavit; and the drafting of an executive employment agreement.

Contract and agreements

The handling of contracts is one of the most important legal requirements that business owners will need to meet. Some contracts that entrepreneurs will typically have to enter into at the very beginning stages of setting up their company are Memorandum of Incorporation, which is the constitutional document of a company.

Other types of typical contracts are: a shareholders’ agreement, letters of appointment and employment contracts, a lease agreement for the premises from which they will run their business, insurance agreements.

Businesses are also responsible for the drafting of the following key agreements – financial agreements, non-disclosure or confidentiality, as well as agreements to protect the proprietary information of the business, as well as standard terms and conditions with suppliers or service providers.

Intellectual property

Commercial law service providers can help you protect your intellectual property by registering your patents, copyrights and trademarks with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission. An attorney can guide you on what is worth protecting and how to go about doing it. (https://smesouthafrica.wpengine.com/entrepreneurs-your-annual-legal-guide-is-here/).

Related: How To Protect Your Intellectual Property

POPI compliance

If you are going to be handling any customer or employee data, it is important that a business adheres to the Protection of Personal Information (PoPI) Act. Business owners should get legal advice to safeguard their businesses against potential business-crippling fines.

Corporate governance structures

If your business is a registered entity (company or CC), the law requires that you recognise and practice good corporate governance. These are cost-effective and simple mechanisms and processes that help businesses to establish structure, improve operations, contribute to business growth and ensure effective compliance with the law. They also set out the rules and arrangements that determine what a business and its various stakeholders can and cannot do.

Property law

The protection of ownership of your property is an important part of your business. This includes registering ownership of property, plant and equipment or intellectual property rights.

Consumer protection laws

Your business may be required to comply with this legislation as a supplier or is offered protection as a consumer. Ensure your business is compliant with all aspects relating to consumer protection and business practices relating to products and services, such as quality, fair pricing, dealing with returns and refunds, and complaints process and remedies.

Cyber law

An increasingly important aspect of every business. Requirements include custom website Terms of Service/Terms and Conditions; automated website privacy policy and the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI Act) Compliance Services.

Employment and labour law

Businesses must comply with the Basic Conditions of Employment Act 75 of 1997 which mainly deals with, but is not limited to, contracts of employment; regulation of working hours; remuneration; procedural fairness; dismissals and resignations and the notices. All these aspects are important for the continuous operation of business

Tax-related laws

There are numerous tax laws that business owners must adhere to, from VAT Act 89 of 199 to the Securities Transfer Tax Act 25 of 2007, which may also include industry specific tax laws.

The most comprehensive and relevant to most businesses is the Income Tax Act no 58 of 1962. This Act regulates and taxes all and any form of income, be it personal or business. Differing tax rates apply to micro, small, medium and large businesses. To mitigate risk, it’s important that you know what your obligations are as a small business.

Related: Know Your Small Business Corporation Requirements

Pricing

Many commercial law service providers offer startup or small business legal packages that can include the following services:

  • Company administration
  • Agreements
  • Intellectual property registration and guidance
  • Compliance and regulation guidance
  • Corporate structuring
  • Business consulting
  • Review of third party or existing agreements
  • Corporate governance
  • Labour law

 

Buyer's Guide

Consider the following when choosing your commercial law service provider.

Fees

Cost is a significant barrier to legal services for small businesses. As a result it can be tempting for businessesses to try to DIY their legal services, this is however, not recommended as a mistake in this area can be costly. It is still, however, important to consider if your business can afford the legal fees, keeping in mind that legal help in specialised areas such as intellectual property, tax, bankruptcy or copyright,can be expensive.

It’s important to note that every lawyer charges different hourly rates and that rates and additional fees vary depending on the service required.

Fortunately more legal firms are offering value-based and on-demand legal services. It’s advisable that small businesses go for this option.

Reputable service providers

There are many ways to find a reputable commercial law service providers such as through recommendation or referral and even online. Wherever you find a lawyer, make sure they have the relevant expertise required and are a member of a reputable law organisation. Attorneys in South Africa need to become members of the Law Society of SA in order to practise.

Specialisation

When evaluating whether a lawyer is the right fit for your business consider the following. Is the firm that you are considering big or small enough to cater for your needs? Have they helped other businesses similar to yours? Look for a firm that provides specialised packages for small and medium sized enterprises and will provide tailored and integrated legal services across a wide range of practice areas.

Related: 5 Laws Every Business Owner Can’t Afford To Ignore

Benefits of Legal Services

  • Allow you to focus on your specialist area of work.
  • Avoid costly fines and lawsuits.
  • Protection of business assets.
  • Increased business compliance.
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