Staying in Business

Staying in Business

An ongoing relationship with your business lawyers is critical to having a properly organized business which is to succeed and prosper. The critical nature of this relationship has been proven by the recent financial collapse in world markets and the knock-on effect to Irish business.

The hard lessons learned from the recent recession placed credit control and debt collection at the core of business success. Where possible, certainly on new accounts for newly formed business, cash on delivery has to be the recommended course of action. Personal guarantees of directors or from well established holding companies are an alternative to consider where the orders are of a significant value or deliveries are frequent so as to accumulate to a considerable sum in a short space of time. It is all too commonly the case that businesses allow debts to accrue to significant levels only to find themselves at a loss to insolvent companies. Even if the company is solvent, settlement invariably involves a lesser sum than is actually due.

These options are commonly not available in the case of established purchasing businesses . In this case it is vital to maintain a very tight system of credit control and to follow up regularly with creditors to ensure payment. A properly organised business will have dedicated credit control personnel to ensure cash flow is maintained. At business start up this task usually falls to the principals. Businesses would be well advised to investigate the financial strength of their customers.

We have significant experience in debt collection. We advise on strategies at the outset to protect against risk. There are a number of debt collection processes available with more detail in our Litigation Section. We can act in the pursuit of debts locally, nationally or cross border/ internationally. There are process that operate in a similar manner for all member States of the European Union.

In addition any business properly managing its staff will have employment contracts in place as required under Irish Law. We draft and assist with the negotiation of terms in contracts at all levels for all business. A properly completed employment contract should include the correctly structured disciplinary process so that dismissal can be completed without the risk of action by the employees under Unfair Dismissals legislation.

Any business should also consider protecting its intellectual property and sensitive business information. In the case of employment this should form part of the contract. Monitoring of employees actions is allowed under Irish law so long as it falls within permissible levels and the intention to do so has been communicated to the employees in question. It should not fall foul of Data Protection law. Any business should also have a clearly drafted acceptable internet usage policy and e-mail policy. These should be in communicated in writing to the employees at the start of their employment or as soon as the policy has been introduced. We prepare internet and e-mail acceptable usage policies. We protect businesses’ IP.

Any manufacturing business should also inform itself as to the requirements vis-à-vis waste dissemination and packaging regulations.

Under Irish Law business should make pension schemes available to employees or at the very least assist employees in the creation of pension related savings accounts (PRSA).

Certain business activities also require licenses in Ireland e.g. sale of alcohol, cigarettes or the conduct of business as an Auctioneer, Estate Agent or Letting Management Agency. You can review our Licensing Section for more information.

The above summary is intended to identify in broad terms the many leglislative and regulatory pitfalls that can ultimately have a negative effect on the business bottom line. We call these the “hidden costs” of doing business. A proper relationship with your solicitor will minimise, if not negative exposure to the company’s finances. If you are intent on staying in business, you must have proper regard to these issues.

We are happy to advise businesses on their employee relations, their on-line presence or their compliance with regulations.

Martin Moloney