Going into business can be a daunting prospect. There many potential pitfalls and it is important to avoid them by obtaining sound advice on the financial and legal aspects of doing business in Jersey. We can help with all the legal implications of starting, acquiring, running and selling a business. Below are some of the issues that you need to consider.
Regulation of Undertakings
Anyone setting up a new business or buying an established undertaking (any trade or profession) in Jersey is legally obliged to obtain a licence under the Regulation of Undertakings and Development Law (the “Law”). The Population Office is responsible for administering the Law, in accordance with published policies.
The licence sets out the number of employees that the undertaking can employ. It is vital that you ascertain how many locally and non-locally qualified people (people who have been resident for 5 years and longer and those who have not) you will be permitted to employ. We can advise and assist in obtaining licences and applying for permission to employ staff.
Unless you work on your own, you will need to employ staff in your business. This will require compliance with a number of legal requirements. You will need to ensure, of course, that the number of members of staff does not exceed that permitted by your licence. In addition, you will need to be aware of the abundance of legal requirements relating to:
Health and safety
We can help you find your way through the maze of laws and regulations in the area of employment and avoid the possibility of breaches that may result in prosecution and/or litigation.
Choice of legal entity
You may run the business in your own name, in partnership with others or through a company. The right choice will depend on the nature and size of the business. It is likely, in any event, that you will need a Registered Business Name.
The Jersey Financial Services Commission is the body responsible for the register of companies and business names. We can assist, if necessary, with the process of reserving and registering names, or, in the case of the purchase of an existing business, transferring the name to the new owner.
Agreement of sale/purchase
When buying or selling a business, it is vital that the terms of the agreement are clear and comprehensive. You need to know your rights and responsibilities under the contract and to ensure that every relevant aspect is covered, so prevent unforeseen, unpleasant and expensive disputes when matters of importance are not expressly agreed.
It is better to invest time and resources at the outset to prevent disputes than in litigation later. Once more, we can assist in this process and help you to negotiate a sound agreement.
Shareholders’ or Partnership Agreement
Many problems arise where friends or acquaintances enter into a business venture on the basis of informal arrangements. When a problem surfaces, the lack of a written agreement is often regretted, but by then it is generally too late to avoid friction and even potential litigation.
We would always recommend that a written agreement is entered into by all parties clearly setting out the terms of their arrangement and providing for a method to settle a dispute in the event that it should arise at some point in the future. We can advise on the likely issues that arise and appropriate terms for your individual business.
You will generally need premises from which to run your business. Unless you own appropriate premises, you will need to rent. Once you have identified premises that suit your business the term of the lease will have to be agreed.
We can offer advice and guidance on lease agreements. Again, it is vital to establish the division of rights and responsibilities between landlord and tenant with regard to the maintenance of the building and its contents. If problems arise with the premises, such as a water leak, or replacement of the boiler, you need to know who is responsible for not only resolving the problem but also, if appropriate, claiming under their insurance policy.
You may buy or run a business, such as a restaurant or a shop, that requires a licence to sell alcohol. Applications for new licences require the approval of the Parish Assembly and are granted by the Licensing Assembly. You will need to put forward a person who is likely be accepted as fit and proper to be a licensee or a manager of the licence.
We can help in making the application and advise you on the legal requirements applicable to each type of licence.