Businesses are expected to follow the myriad laws set by the authorities. Therefore, whether small or big, businesses need an Lawyer to ensure they function properly and are compliant with the set laws. Issues such as property purchases and preparing taxes require legal help. Disputes and litigation require law expertise to prevent serious consequences, as well. This is where business Lawyers come in handy. They offer legal help to businesses. Below are other important benefits of hiring a business Lawyer Ottawa organizations can trust.
A Lawyer Will Provide Your Business with Advice
Business Lawyers help business owners to understand different legal issues, such as lawsuits and legal violations, that might impact their operations. They provide the required advice and legal guidance to help you come out of the legal situations or avoid breaking the law in the first place.
A Lawyer Can Facilitate Dispute Resolution
A business may fall into conflict with other establishments. In such instances, a business Lawyer will come up with legal options that are helpful to both parties. Note that litigation takes time and costs a lot of money. This is why it is vital to opt for mediation and arbitration. According to various reports, only 4% of cases of personal injuries are resolved through the court, while 96% are settled through negotiation. These private negotiations and conflict resolutions are preferable for a number of reasons -- and your Lawyer can help you achieve a favorable outcome.
A Lawyer Will Help Businesses Stay On Top of Legal Changes
With laws and regulations changing every day, it is quite hard to fully understand what is required of you as a business owner. This is where the business Lawyers come in handy. They help you to avoid violating the law. Business Lawyers also help to negotiate legally binding agreements such as partnerships agreements and leases. Essentially, a business Lawyer ensures that everything you do is in line with the law.
A Lawyer Can Navigate the Legal System
At some point, you may find yourself on the wrong side of the law. A business Lawyer will help you deal with legal problems as they arise. If you're facing a lawsuit, a Lawyer can ensure your rights are protected. An adept Lawyer can even tilt the dispute to your advantage. A business owner should never try to handle any legal disputes on their own, as this can end very poorly.
A Lawyer Can Connect You With a Specialist
If you are in need of specialized assistance, business Lawyers can refer you to the right professionals. Some cases, such as complicated tax matters, may require extra help. Lawyers are well-connected can direct you to a specialist who can provide guidance and assistance for all your business needs.
A Lawyer Can Help You Avoid Mistakes
Running a business is associated with numerous legal pitfalls. You are susceptible to making legal mistakes, regardless of whether you’re a rookie or an experienced business person. A good business Lawyer is well versed with business knowledge and pitfalls that you may come across. A business Lawyer helps you avoid major problems, some of which you may not even be aware of. Employment lawsuits can put your business profitability at risk. It is much better to prevent lawsuits before they occur instead of dealing with them later.
A Lawyer Can Ensure Your Contracts Are Sound
One of the most important things for a business is to ensure they have solid contracts. Otherwise, other entities may take advantage of incomplete or vague agreements. Solving cases that come as a result of this sloppiness can be very costly. Business Lawyers help to draft airtight agreements, hence avoid future disagreements and potential losses.
A Lawyer Can Make It Easier To Get Paid
Dealing with some partners, clients, and business associates can be quite stressful. Some people are reluctant to pay for services or supplies. If someone owes you money and they do not show commitment to pay you, consider using your business Lawyer. Ask the Lawyer to send a request on your behalf. Business Lawyers will not only motivate debtors to pay you, but they also know the steps to take in case they totally refuse to pay.
Businesses both small and big needs to have a business Lawyer. Corporate Lawyers do not only deal with lawsuits but also can help you with drafting contracts and operating the business in line with the law. They may also allow you to avoid costly legal action. For more information, please contact our firm today.
“I’ve been told I need a Shareholder’s Agreement - do you have a standard agreement I can use” is something we hear with frequency. It reflects an understanding by the client that a Shareholder’s Agreement is a “good thing”, but without an understanding of what that good thing is. Generally the response of legal counsel to this question is that there is no such thing as a “standard” Shareholder’s Agreement, let’s meet and talk. So what is it about Shareholder’s Agreements that are so valuable and why isn’t there a standard form, like a real estate agreement?
At a high level of abstraction, a Shareholder’s Agreement is a document that expresses the expectations of shareholders in respect of a corporation through legal obligations and rights. The task of the Lawyer in preparing the Shareholder’s Agreement is threefold - discerning what the expectations are (and those expectations are often not fully formed) – providing counsel on the legal and tax implication on the various alternatives by which those expectations may be realized - and expressing those expectations in the form of contractual terms that bind the parties.
For example, shareholders in a narrowly held private corporation may have an expectation that on death the shares will be purchased. In the absence of a Shareholder’s Agreement, this expectation may not be realized. There is no statute or common law requiring or obligating a purchase. If the remaining shareholders are unwilling to agree to a purchase, the estate is left with the shares and a tax bill. Nothing of course prevents the parties from negotiating a purchase, but the relative bargaining power may have shifted in unpredictable ways, and planning opportunities, such as insurance funding, may have been missed. A Shareholder’s Agreement that addresses these expectations will reflect the parties prior expectations for fairness, and will create certainty. Legal counsel will discuss alternatives including the corporate purchase of the shares, purchase by the remaining shareholders, and hybrids including spousal rollovers, the tax implications under the alternatives to the estate and to the remaining shareholders, the use of insurance funding, payment terms, security and so forth.
In family held corporations, expectations for succession (how management is succeeded) and liquidation (how the shareholding interests are turned into cash) are particularly difficult and require unique and sometimes innovative solutions. A Shareholder’s Agreement is a valuable tool in estate planning for resolving how competing expectations for liquidation and succession are accommodated.
My husband and I are the sole shareholders and directors of an incorporated retail business. We have been quite successful and are generating cash excess to business requirements. We do not want to pay the cash out to ourselves now, and pay high rates of tax, but at the same time this cash is a significant part of a retirement fund. We have no creditors, other than trade creditors payable in the ordinary course. How do we protect this cash for our retirement?
You are asking a good question. In the event of an unexpected economic downturn or legal claim against your active business corporation, the excess cash generated in the business could be exposed to potential creditors. Once the liability is crystalized, it may be too late to take action that will protect the cash. You have also correctly identified that the simplest solution –payment of the cash out to yourselves – attracts undesirable tax consequences.
A cost efficient solution is the creation of a holding corporation. The holding corporation structure, when designed properly, allows excess money from your active business corporation to be paid by dividend to the holding corporation, tax free. The holding corporation is a separate legal entity, and is generally insulated from claims against your active business corporation.
Care is required that the desired tax treatment is achieved in the structuring of the holding corporation. There are other financial planning considerations, such as ensuring the availability of the lifetime capital gains exemption, which must be addressed by the new structure. This type of corporate structuring may also be implemented as part of a broader strategy for business succession and included as part of your estate planning.
I have a corporation the shares of which are held only by me and members of my immediate family. Do I really need to have annual minutes?
If your corporation is audited by the CRA and matters, such as the declaration of dividends, have not been formally documented by a written resolution of the directors or in annual minutes, the consequence can be severe. There are other risks that may be avoided by having minutes prepared annually. This is analogous to your dentist who encourages you to have good dental hygiene and periodic check-ups so that small problems do not become big problems. Practicing good corporate hygiene just makes good sense.
The minimum legal obligation of a corporation is to hold an annual meeting of shareholders to consider the financial statements, elect directors and to appoint (or dispense with the appointment of) the auditor. In practice, and as permitted by statute, narrowly held corporations often dispense with an annual meeting in favor of signed resolution of all of the shareholders. The failure to hold annual resolutions, or obtain written resolutions in lieu, can lead to legal action from disgruntled shareholders.
The practice of holding annual meetings (or resolutions in lieu) also tends to ensure that corporate matters requiring attention are addressed, such as share transfers, changes to directors, and address changes, which if left unaddressed could become significant problems.
An effective method of ensuring good “corporate hygiene” is for the corporation to instruct its accounting advisors to provide legal counsel with an annual letter of instructions to document applicable financial matters.
It is not uncommon that a new client brings us a minute book that has not been properly organized, or that has not been updated for many years. It is not a cause for embarrassment. We strongly encourage that the minute books be updated before an issue arises, such as a CRA audit.