Most SMEs will have at least one hidden threat lurking in their paperwork that could damage their business, a leading solicitor has claimed.
Frank Rogers, partner at Kirwans law firm, said solicitors at the firm regularly deal with costly and damaging cases brought against SMEs that could have been prevented through a simple legal review.
Now the firm is offering small to medium-sized businesses in the region legal health checks, allowing them to have their paperwork examined by one of Kirwans’ legal experts to ensure it is fully compliant – and to weed out any hidden threats lurking in the small print.
Leases, terms and conditions, agreements, employment contracts and corporate structure are just some of the legal documents that can be reviewed by Kirwans’ solicitors to identify potential problems.
Frank said: “As the New Year kicks in, many of us will be giving ourselves a health check. However, very few people tend to do the same for their business.
“For most owner/managers, their time is spent working on and trying to evolve the firm while also battling with the increasing burden of rules and regulations. They don’t have the chance to go through all of their paperwork with a fine toothcomb and look for wording that could potentially cause problems and even if they did, clauses are often written in such a way that they’re impenetrable to those with limited legal knowledge.
“As a result, small issues that could have been spotted and dealt with at an early stage often become a major – and costly – problem.”
Statistics support Frank’s claims, with the Legal Services Board’s (LSB) third research report published last year revealing that around a third of small businesses had a legal problem in the preceding 12 months – and around half of respondents said it had a negative impact.
The same study reported the total annual losses to small businesses due to legal problems to be estimated at £40bn, with over one million individuals in small businesses suffering ill health as a result.
In addition, a 2017 YouGov survey looking at legal costs for UK SMEs revealed that small to medium-sized businesses in the UK were losing nearly £7m an hour from neglecting their legal commitments.
The study, commissioned by LawBite, also reported that individual SMEs were experiencing on average eight legal issues every year, with the most common legal issues faced by SMEs found to be related to disputes, employees and key contractors, customers and suppliers, terms and conditions and software.
Frank said: “The figures are frightening – and potentially ruinous – for most small businesses. But the good news is that by taking advantage of Kirwans’ health check offer, many of these legal claims can be prevented, allowing the business owner to get on with developing their business rather than having to worry about the cost of being sued.”