SME Legal Assistance
Legal Assistance for Small and Medium Enterprises
Being a small or medium-sized business does not mean that it should be run with a small or medium mindset. Running a business, big or small, requires the same input, if not more in the case of a small or medium-sized business, and small or medium-sized businesses are exposed to the same risks of a large business. However, large businesses can generally absorb much more risk.
Larger businesses rely on staffed legal departments to cater for their legal needs, but small and medium business usually neglect the legal side of their business, simply because they don’t have the resources to employ full-time legal professionals.
We at Botha Bezuidenhout Attorneys Inc understand the legal risks of small and medium businesses because we fall into the same category. We not only understand the risks, but we can also relate to the concept of “limited resources”. That is why we developed the SME Legal Assistance product, which is aimed to provide an affordable solution for small and medium-sized businesses, to cater for all their legal needs.
We have grouped the most prominent business legal services under one umbrella, meaning you have a one-stop-shop for all your business’ legal needs. If the service you need is not included below, speak to us and if we can assist you therewith, we will include it for you.
SME Legal Services
When a dispute cannot be resolved by mediation, the next step is to go and battle it out in court, right? Until about a year ago, that was our advice as well.
The alternative to litigation (in court) is arbitration, but arbitration is expensive. In court, you don’t have to pay the Judge. During arbitration proceedings, both parties pay the Arbitrator (“Judge”) upfront and the general rule is that the loser ultimately pays the full account. The advantage of arbitration is an expedient and less formal process.
The sad reality of courts these days is that the courts are inundated with litigation matters, and a simple dispute can take months or even years to finalise. More complex disputes can take anything from 3 to 5 years (or even longer) to finalise.
We are also faced with other realities like insufficient availability of Judges or courtrooms. You then wait 12 to 18 months for a trial date to arrive, just to be forced to postpone the matter, and you will have to pay your advocate and attorney unnecessarily. Then you wait for another 12 to 18 months for the next trial date, just to run the same risk.
Arbitration proceedings can be finalised in a matter of a few months, and although you pay the arbitrator, you won’t have to pay your advocate and attorney for unnecessary appearances.
When your business is dependent on the resolution of the dispute, arbitration might just be the lifebuoy you need.
Drafting of Contracts
Standard contracts from a Google search is not much different from a verbal “gentleman’s agreement”. The only difference between the two is that the one is written and the other one not, but neither is a smart choice.
How many times did you diagnose your common cold with a life-threatening disease when you Googled your symptoms? Google is not a doctor and also not a lawyer. Search engine results are random and generic, while properly drafted contracts, are unique and specifically addresses your needs.
Be smart and let us draft your contracts for you. We can guarantee you that you will be better off when a dispute arises.
Review of Contracts
Clever people make stupid mistakes.
You want to close an important deal, but the other contracting party provided you with the contract. He probably had a lawyer drafting the contract and his lawyer definitely said something along the following lines: “I’m putting in clauses X, Y and Z. It is probably unfair, but hey, if they don’t pick it up, you can pull the strings.”.
We know you are a clever businessperson and you know how to run your business, but if you are not a lawyer, you should not sign a contract without first obtaining legal advice.
Leave the legal jargon to us and focus on running your successful business.
You can trust your business partner with your life, but how can you be assured that you won’t be double-crossed?
Director’s liability can be avoided if you voted against a certain decision, but how do you prove your vote without proper resolutions, minutes of meetings, etc?
When a deal goes south, and the Directors are found to be personally liable, will your business partner let you off the hook or want to drag you down with him.
Allow us to prepare proper resolutions for every decision taken by the directors. Not only will you have peace of mind, but it might just save you from future hardship.
Are you familiar with all the compliance requirements of your business?
Are you familiar with all the procedural requirements of the Companies Act and your company’s MOI (Memorandum of Incorporation)?
If not, you are at risk, playing Russian Roulette and dodging the bullet… until the day you don’t.
Allow us to advise you on your compliance requirements and take the bullet from the gun.
Are your details updated at the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission? If not, you are contravening the Companies Act.
The Registered address of a company is the legal address of that company. Whenever communication and notices are to be sent to a company, proof of delivery thereof at the registered address is sufficient for legal purposes, even if the company is no longer at that address.
If you recently amended your MOI (Memorandum of Incorporation) but have not registered the amendments at the CIPC, that amendments are invalid.
We can assist you with all your CIPC needs, whether it be the registration of a new company or the maintaining of company records, we can do it all.
An angry boss cannot remain objective during a disciplinary hearing of an employee. Any disciplinary action taken pursuant to such a hearing will probably end up in the CCMA.
By having one of our attorneys preside over the disciplinary hearing, you can testify against your employee and be assured that the attorney will decide on an outcome that is objectively fair, considering all circumstances and legal principles. After all, it is one of our attorneys that will have to persuade the CCMA that the decision was fair if the employee refers a dispute to the CCMA.
Creating distance between an employer and employee during disciplinary hearings will result in less hostility and more likely result in a fair procedure to both parties in compliance with the labour laws.
We are so overwhelmed with information these days, and with Google and YouTube, you can get an answer to basically any question, probably even multiple answers just to confuse you.
The biggest problem with self-help solutions to legal problems is that you need to ask the right question, to get the right answer. We are all familiar with the principle of “garbage in, garbage out”.
An attorney, on the other hand, will not just answer your question but will gather all the relevant surrounding facts and circumstances to make sure that you get the correct answer to your legal problem.
People mostly ask legal questions to determine who is at fault and who is liable. Why would you trust an unknown or unreliable source to guide you on this! Remember, free legal advice is worth every cent you paid for it.
We understand you don’t have time to waste on employees that are not an asset to your business, but the labour laws require you to jump through hoops and loops to protect the interest of your employees. The same employees who are costing you money, not making you money.
By adopting comprehensive labour manuals, you and your employees have a “handbook” that addresses every situation, from leave, to performance, to disciplinary action.
You can save yourself a lot of time, frustration and legal fees if you and your employees have a manual to follow.
All disputes start bad and when ego’s get in the way, they end worse.
When a dispute arises, someone needs to be blamed, and no one will publicly blame themselves.
You will need an attorney to defuse the situation, by advising you to admit as little liability as possible, to persuade your adversary to naturally sympathise with you and also admit his portion of the liability. This is just how the human mind works.
When you admit some (small) liability early in a dispute, you not only earn the respect of your adversary, but also his sympathy. He will feel guilty to an extent and the parties can reach a workable solution without tarnishing the business relationship.
Settle disputes quickly with your adversary, because the longer a dispute drags on, the bigger the ego’s get, and the harder it is to resolve a dispute.
Stop compromising and start standing your ground… confidently and proud. With one of our attorneys present at negotiations, you will avoid the feeling of remorse afterwards.
Emotion sometimes gets the better of us and we stop thinking clearly. We will remain objective during negotiations and prevent you from cutting a bad deal, just because you are desperate.
We don’t say you should never compromise, but to compromise to your detriment, will cost you a lot more in the future.