If you want to run a business, then it’s imperative to be familiar with the laws that impact your business. Often, when people think of starting their own business, they underestimate the importance of legal considerations. 

In reality, business and the law go hand in hand. You can’t run a successful business without being aware and prepared for the legal implications at every step. 

We understand it can be pretty time consuming to get to know every single business-related law (there’s more than a few!). Don’t stress about it though, we’ve got you covered. 

Keep reading to learn about the different laws your business will need to follow.  

What Is Business Law In Australia? 

In Australia, business law refers to the legalities of all the different aspects of running a business. It’s a pretty broad term, as it covers a large range of matters. Essentially, business law refers to controls imposed on businesses as they function in the market. This includes (but isn’t limited to) having reasonable contracts, employment laws and upholding consumer rights. 

By providing a sound legal framework to businesses, the law is able to regulate the market and make sure it’s fair and safe for everyone – both businesses and consumers interacting with it. 

Is Business Law The Same As Corporate Law? 

There’s no definitive way to distinguish between business law and corporate law. In fact, it’s not unheard of for the two terms to get used synonymously with one another.  

However, if you take a closer look – there is a significant  difference between the two. 

As we mentioned, business law is a board term which refers to almost the entire scope (if not all) of the laws that impact a business when functioning in the commercial market. Corporate law on the other hand, is considered to be a subset of business law. Corporate law focuses specifically on the formation, management and regulation of companies. Essentially, corporate law is a more specific niche of business law. 

So, wouldn’t corporate law apply to all businesses? 

The answer is no. 

Every business isn’t automatically considered to be a company. A company is a specific legal structure – there are other legal structures such as a sole trader or partnership structure. 

To form a company, you need to register it with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). Once you’ve achieved that, your company will be considered a legal entity on its own, meaning the rules will be a little different for you compared to other business structures. As such, you’ll be  required to adhere to corporate law regulations. 

Legal structures, business regulations and corporate law can all be a lot to process – if you have any questions, our legal experts are here to help. 

To learn more about the different business structures, you can check out our article, What Is The Difference Between A Partnership Structure And A Company Structure?.

What Laws Do Businesses Have To Follow In Australia? 

As you probably know by now, business law covers a rather broad range of matters. Due to this, it can be a challenge to distinguish exactly what laws you need to be on the lookout for when you’re running a business. 

Every business is different therefore, the laws each business will need to pay attention to will differ from one another. It’s always a good idea to chat with a legal expert to make sure your business is compliant with all the regulations that apply to it. 

It’s always a good idea to have at least a general awareness of the types of regulations that tend to impact businesses, so we’ve listed them down below for you. 

Australian Consumer Law

Selling a product or service on the market means consumer law will apply to your business. Australian Consumer Law (ACL) is largely overseen by the ACCC. As the owner of a business, it’s imperative to be aware of all the ACCC’s rules and regulations. Breaching consumer law is not only terrible for your business’s reputation, it can lead to some pretty serious legal penalties. Therefore, it’s important to be on top of your duties and obligations towards consumers. The ACL covers matters that include:

  • Misleading and deceptive conduct
  • Standard quality of products
  • Exchanges, returns and warranties
  • False advertising
  • Pricing 
  • Standard form contracts 

Even though the objectives of the ACCC are largely aimed at protecting consumers, they still enforce rules to safeguard the vulnerabilities of small businesses. Talking to a legal expert can help you gain a better understanding of both your rights and responsibilities under the ACL. 

Employment Law

If your business is going to be hiring staff, then employment law is going to be a huge factor in determining how you conduct your relationship with your team members. As an employer, a few of your key responsibilities will include: 

  • Providing the proper equipment to work where necessary 
  • Ensure the workplace is free of discrimination and harassment 
  • Allowing employees a safe space to make complaints 
  • Making sure every employee is receiving the correct pay, leave hours and breaks 
  • Refusing to engage in unfair or unlawful dismissal 

Many of the duties you have as an employer towards your employees can be found by taking a look at Safe Work Australia or Fair Work. It’s a wise idea to get familiar with these departments, as they aid in determining a lot of minimum standards for employees all across Australia. 

Talking to an expert in Employment Law is always helpful as well. They can explain your key responsibilities as an employer and help you utilise the correct legal instruments, such as a Workplace Policy that can help you maintain the kind of workplace that is legally needed. 

Contract Laws

Contracts are known to be the ‘lifeblood of a business’. This statement is arguably true, as well drafted contracts can help provide security for your business that otherwise wouldn’t be there. However, contracts aren’t just an added security measure. Often, they are also a legal measure. Contracts are a great way to keep your business on track with legal compliance. For example, if you’re hiring employees (like we discussed above) it’s better to have professional Employment Agreements with them. 

Contracts can help make sure everything is working within the boundaries of the law and the legal rights of every party is being met. A few contracts and other legal agreements you may want to consider getting drafted are:

Intellectual Property Laws

Intellectual Property (IP) laws largely determine the ownership and usage of materials that are intangible and created through human intellect. As a business owner, you’ll need to utilise IP law to protect your own intellectual property as well as make sure you do not infringe on the IP rights of another person. Being aware of things like Copyright laws and IP Licensing can make a huge difference in saving your business from trouble down the line. 

Moreover, it’s also crucial to know your options when it comes to protecting your IP. There are many different ways to protect IP (depending on the nature of it). Sometimes, a Trade Mark will be appropriate and other times, a legal document like a Copyright Disclaimer will be your best bet in making sure your IP is legally safeguarded. 

An expert in IP will be able to assess the best way to protect your IP, it’s worth getting in touch with one of ours today. 

Data and Privacy Laws

Another law that businesses need to follow are data and privacy laws. When you run a business, there’s a good chance you’ll have access to information on people from both within and outside of your business. When people trust your business with their information, it’s imperative (and your legal obligation) to ensure you take every reasonable measure to ensure that trust isn’t broken. 

Thankfully, there’s a number of legal instruments that can be implemented to make sure data and privacy is well maintained within your business. Consider getting:

Our Data and Privacy experts can help provide clarity and guidance on being compliant with data and privacy regulations – talk to one of ours today.  

Next Steps

When you run a business, following the laws that impact your business is crucial for your businesses success and longevity. A legal expert can help you determine the specific laws you need to consider and help you take steps to comply with them. To summarise what we’ve discussed: 

  • Business law in Australia encompasses various aspects, including contracts, employment laws, and consumer rights, regulating the market for fairness and safety
  • Business law and corporate law are related but distinct; corporate law specifically focuses on the formation, management, and regulation of companies
  • Businesses in Australia need to be mindful of laws like the Australian Consumer Law (ACL), covering misleading conduct, product quality, exchanges, returns, warranties, false advertising, pricing, and standard form contracts
  • Employment law plays a significant role for businesses hiring staff, involving responsibilities like providing proper equipment, ensuring a discrimination-free workplace, and adhering to pay and leave standards
  • Contracts are essential for legal compliance, with various agreements like supply, business terms, distribution, and service agreements contributing to the smooth functioning of a business
  • Intellectual Property (IP) laws safeguard intangible creations, and businesses must protect their own IP while respecting the rights of others through measures like trademarks and copyright disclaimers
  • Data and privacy laws are crucial for businesses handling sensitive information, requiring instruments such as privacy policies, data breach notifications, and information security policies to maintain trust and compliance

If you would like a consultation on the laws businesses have to follow, you can reach us at 1800 730 617 or team@sprintlaw.com.au for a free, no-obligations chat.

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