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Personal Finance

Resolutions to get your firm’s legal affairs in order

write contracts
Make sure you write contracts for all transactions no matter how small the deal is. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

It is that time of the year when many people make new year resolutions. Businesses also engage in strategic planning, budget drafting and other planning activities. Today I have highlighted how your business can make resolutions on legal matters and what can be considered as you make them.

Compliance This year make sure your business is compliant on matters to do with tax and other statutory regulations. These include human resource issues such as National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) and NSSF. Every business operates in a set industry and most of these industries are regulated. It is important for your business to maintain a good reputation with the industry regulator as these are stakeholders of your business. Compliance is also key in minimising legal risk.

Draft policies It is surprising that a lot of businesses operate without any policies. Policies are important as they give direction and guidance to the business and staff. They assist in decision making. Some policies to consider are human resources, financial, innovation, whistle blowing, anti-bribery, social media, sexual harassment amongst many others. These resources are available online.

Annual review Have an annual review of existing contracts and policies to ensure that these are holisitic. This review is necessary, due to constant changes in the law. New laws would mean that you may need to relook your contracts to include the new laws, while the repealing of some existing laws means that some clauses in contracts should be omitted.

Legal documentation Write contracts for all transactions no matter how small the transaction is. Various types of contracts are available online and can be easily drafted. However if a contract is more complex it is important to hire a lawyer to assist.

Hire a lawyer If your business can afford it, it is good practice to retain a lawyer to handle all legal matters. It is cheaper to get into a retainer agreement with your counsel as opposed to having one-off engagements.

Hire a legal officer Your business can choose the option of hiring an inhouse counsel known as the legal officer. The legal officer acts as the lawyer for your business and handles all legal matters. This is a good option for bigger businesses with a lot of legal requirements, for example those that deal with a lot of legal documentation. In the long run a legal officer is cheaper than engaging an external counsel.

Purchase legal resources It is important to have some legal resources for your business. There are several books which are simple and easy to understand.

Dispute-Resolution Strategy I strongly recommend negotiations and mediation as a starting point in dispute-resolution as these are conciliatory and provide for a win-win solution. Arbitration would be a third option and if all else fails, resort to litigation.

Finally it is good to consider doing a legal audit to help you measure and mitigate the legal risk that your business is exposed to.

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