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Top 5 Legal Tips for Start-ups

19 October, 2023 | Dr. Matthew Galea Debono

The journey of a thousand miles starts with but a single step. Starting a new business can be an equally exciting and challenging endeavour.

It is important not to be overcome by how daunting that first step is. Your greatest concerns are usually legal ones. To help you navigate these, here are five important legal tips:

Choose the Right Business Structure

Selecting the appropriate legal structure for your startup is crucial. Common options include sole proprietorship, partnership and the commonly used limited liability company. Each structure has its own legal and tax implications, so consult with a lawyer and an accountant to determine which best suits your business goals and needs.

Register Your Business

Ensure that your business is properly registered and complies with all legal requirements. In Malta, this means registering a limited liability company or partnership with the Malta Business Registry.

One must also be mindful of obtaining the necessary licenses and permits and complying with local regulations. Failing to do so can result in fines in the best of cases or protracted legal issues in the worst.

Draft Clear Contracts

Contracts are a vital part of any business concern. It is of paramount importance to ensure that all agreements, including partnerships, customer agreements, employment contracts, and vendor agreements, are clearly written and legally sound.

Having written contracts in place can help prevent misunderstandings and legal disputes down the line.

Prudence, of course, dictates that these are drafted by professionals rather than extrapolated from modern tools such as Artificial Intelligence suites.

Comply with Employment and Data Protection Laws

If your startup will have employees you need to be mindful of employment laws and regulations. This includes matters like minimum wage, overtime and workplace safety.

It is advantageous to establish an employee handbook outlining your business's policies and procedures, and consult with legal counsel to ensure your hiring and employment practices are compliant with the law.

Furthermore, if you will be processing personal data as a core competence, you will need a Data Protection Officer to oversee such processes such as those provided by GD Advocates.

Protect Your Intellectual Property

Safeguard your intellectual property including trademarks, copyrights and patents. This can prevent others from using your brand or ideas without permission. Trademark your business name, logo, and any unique products or services.

Additionally, ensure your employees and partners sign confidentiality agreements to protect that same intellectual property. Furthermore, when approaching clients, always get a signed non-disclosure agreement first. The last thing you want is for someone to share your intellectual property with others without consequence.

The above, of course, is not an exhaustive list. Legal requirements can vary depending on your industry.

Consulting with a lawyer who specializes in your industry’s area is highly advisable to address your specific legal needs and ensure your startup operates in a legally sound manner from the day one. GD Advocates can assist in all the above areas and more.

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GD Advocates is a boutique legal firm in Malta, proficient in areas from data protection and intellectual property to blockchain and even E-sports law. Core Services: Data Protec...

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