What are Legal Documents?

What are Legal Documents?

Author: Ian Aldridge, Progressive Legal

legal documents

In this blog, we discuss the importance of having your legal documents in order. As a business owner, not only do you want to make a great first impression with new clients, you also want to ensure that you are compliant with all relevant laws. Let’s discuss.

Australian business owners – do you have any idea how many times you’ve been judged on your legal documents?

After helping almost 3,000 Australian small businesses, I realise more and more about the significant commercial benefits to having great legal documentation (not just the legal advantages).

Have a think….

For most clients, it’s a crucial part of their first impression of you.

In that way alone, your legal documents are really important marketing documents aren’t they?

A great potential client will definitely judge you on your legal documentation. You want them to be as professional as your work is.

If they aren’t well considered, tailored and appropriate, they may not proceed.

If they’re not appropriate, well drafted and compliant with all relevant laws, then how does that look on you?

If it’s a big piece of work, it needs to cover everything and do it well. They may not feel comfortable without it. If they need to make too many changes, they may not bother.

Really one-sided legal documents can scare off potential clients. Are you willing to take that gamble?

The amount of times I’ve advised clients not to do business with another purely based on their legal documents would surprise you.

Have a think – if you were them, just on your legal documentation alone, would you feel comfortable proceeding not knowing you?

Are you really willing to risk losing a great potential client because you downloaded a crap precedent off a website (that probably doesn’t provide your business much cover anyway – a tax-deductible expense)?

If not, then I don’t need to convince you of the legal benefits. That’s just an added bonus.

Do you agree/disagree?

Hopefully that answers the common question of ‘what are legal documents and why are they important for your business?’. We have provided some frequently asked questions below, as well as a link to our Legal Documents service page, where you can engage our experienced lawyers to draft a range of documents for you.

*NB// The contents of this article are information only and should not be relied on as legal advice. Please seek specialist legal advice in relation to your particular situation.

(c) Progressive Legal Pty Ltd – All legal rights reserved (2023)

Legal Documents FAQs

Why are legal documents important?

Generally, legal documents are vital to make sure that 2 or more parties know effectively what the rules are. Having all those items put down in writing significantly reduces the risks of a dispute happening in the first place.

Even if there is a dispute that takes place, at least that dispute is confined to what is in writing and not a he said/she said argument, which would then come down to who is more believable.

It’s really dangerous not having agreements in writing as it opens the door if the relationship turns sour. If there’s no contract in place, then it’s arguable about what the terms of an agreement are, and then it’s open to interpretation.

There’s a really good reason why having legal documents in place for risk management.

If you think back over all the arguments you’ve ever had, even if they were personal, how handy would it have been to have an email or something in writing that backs up your argument? Having things in writing makes it clear in black-and-white.

Why is legal documentation important in business?

Put it this way, every successful business has proper legal documents in place to protect the business from large risks. Having tailored legal documents in place with customers/clients is vital as they are a “protected species”. Same with employees or contractors.

They are seen as the “little guy” that needs protection.

Key suppliers that the business relies on for the livelihood of the business, obviously that’s key to have legal documentation in place that spells out clearly a whole host of important key contractual terms and what happens if there’s a dispute.

The Law in Australia allows businesses a large amount of protection if the agreement is made in writing and the terms are clear and plain English. So long as there isn’t a breach of any other laws, the Courts are very keen to provide certainty in decisions about interpretation of contracts when they are signed properly by both parties.

You’re absolutely asking for trouble if you don’t have all of your legal agreements properly drafted. Anyone that has been through a dispute without a legal agreement in place will be able to tell you how they wish they had something in place to spell out what the terms of an agreement are. It can be an absolute mess otherwise. It’s usually the case that a business will lose out if it doesn’t have an agreement in place.

Unfortunately, you can’t enforce a right that you don’t have or haven’t agreed to. It’s very hard to enforce a verbal agreement or a combination of verbal and emails for instance where it may be vague what the entire agreement was.

The other point to note is that in some instances, having legal documents is actually mandated by law, for instance, having a privacy policy when it’s legally required.

What are examples of legal documents?

Examples of legal documents for business include independent contractor agreements, employment contracts, terms and conditions, privacy policies, disclaimer/waivers, affiliate agreements, referral agreements, deeds of assignment of intellectual property, licence agreement, trade mark and other intellectual property agreements, shareholders agreements, confidentiality agreements, non-disclosure agreements, partnership agreement, joint venture agreement.

The list goes on.

From trade mark applications and shareholder agreements to NDAs and independent contractor contracts, Progressive Legal can help you create a range of legal documents that protect your business interests.

What legal documentation must be maintained by a business?

Any legal documents of a business must be kept up-to-date to make sure there are no changes to details of the agreement, changes in legal entities, etc. As the business changes, so often the documents do as well to make sure those changes are reflected in the documents.

For instance, a new shareholder will mean potentially a new shareholders agreement, a new line of products may mean a variation in the distribution agreement/supply agreement.

These are just a couple of examples.

If they are not kept current and up-to-date, there may be an issue of enforceability of the contracts, which is what it’s all about!

That is, if you don’t have an enforceable agreement, what’s the point of having it in the first place?

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