Frequently asked questions
There are a variety of legal structures available for your business, ranging from sole trader to partnership, limited company or PLC. The question as to what is right for you will depend on a number of factors, including the type of business, tax planning issues, and how the owners of and workers in the business are to be remunerated.
You will need to register for VAT if you expect your turnover to exceed £70,000 during the next month or once your turnover exceeds £70,000 in a 12-month period. You may also want to register for VAT even though your sales do not exceed the threshold. For example, if a significant part of your sales are "zero-rated" or "reduced rate" for VAT purposes, then if you register for VAT you may be able to claim a refund of some or all of the VAT you pay on inputs.
If your business has employees, it is required to have employer liability insurance. In addition, many businesses also carry public liability insurance -- since most businesses, one way or another, interact with the public. Depending on the nature of your business, you may need motor insurance, product liability insurance and/or special types of risk cover such as professional indemnity insurance or performance bonds.
Employers must use the PAYE ('pay as you earn') system to deduct taxes from their employees' earnings and remit them to HMRC. Nearly all businesses are required to make such deductions. You are also required to pay a separate employer's National Insurance contribution. The amounts that you are required to deduct depend on each individual employee's tax coding. Many businesses choose to out-source their payroll accounting, but some do their own. For people who run small businesses and want to handle their own payroll, HMRC offers free assistance.
Yes, all businesses need to prioritise health and safety. If your business is labour-intensive, and especially if it involves physical labour and/or transportation services, it will likely present a range of health and safety issues and may be subject to inspections to ensure regulatory compliance. You will need to determine how you will ensure compliance, and how much it will cost the business to do so.
Although most people try to avoid lawsuits and prefer not to breach contracts, there are times when people find it necessary to take a contract dispute to court. This article provides a basic overview of the law relating to breaches of contract and the remedies for breach of contract.
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Legal aid: Survey shows that two in three oppose changes to legal aid
A survey for the Bar Council conducted by pollsters ComRes has found that two-thirds of the public are opposed to the Government's planned next-phase of legal-aid reform, reports The Independent. The Government completed the first tranche of its legal-aid reforms...
Employment law: Solicitor wins pregnancy discrimination case
A solicitor who was refused a permanent job at the end of her training contract after becoming pregnant has successfully sued a City law firm for discrimination, reported The Daily Telegraph. Trainee solicitor Katie Tantum, who is 33, sued law...
Tax avoidance: Former Google employee blows cover on avoidance scheme
A former employee of Google, the internet search giant, has sparked controversy after revealing the details of a complex accounting scheme that allows the multi-billion-dollar company to pay tiny amounts of tax in the UK, reports the BBC. Barney Jones...
Revenge porn: Victims of shameful practice seek change in the law
Victims of the latest internet craze known as 'revenge porn' are seeking a change in the law that would provide greater protection from ex-lovers who post naked images and videos online without their permission. The practice was once the preserve...
Public liability: Jamie Oliver's Italian pays £17,000 after feeding wheat to coeliac
Jamie Oliver's Italian restaurant chain has been ordered to pay £8,000 and £9,000 costs after serving wheat to a customer suffering from coeliac disease, reports The Daily Mail. Kristy Richardson, 38, told staff at Jamie's Italian in Portsmouth, Hampshire, that...
Dangerous dogs: MPs say that new laws don't go far enough
New laws aimed at tackling the threat caused by dangerous dogs and their irresponsible owners are not strict enough according to MPs, reports the BBC. The laws were drafted in the wake of a series of tragic scandals involving dangerous...
Immigration: Child receives vital arm operation after legal battle
A young girl who was initially refused medical treatment because of the immigration status of her parents has finally received an operation on her arm, reports the BBC. Sanika Ahmed was born in Portsmouth in July 2012 to parents of...
Commercial law: UK believes it has landed a breakthrough over fish dumping
The UK claims that it has secured a breakthrough in negotiations with the EU over the dumping of unwanted fish that do not fit into existing quotas, reports the BBC. Under the current laws concerning fishing quotas, fish that swim...
Discrimination: Lesbian couple refused rental agreement on Isle of Man
A lesbian couple on the Isle of Man have called for a change in the law after being refused rental accommodation on the basis of their sexual orientation, reports the BBC. The couple, Kira Izzard and Laura Cull who live...
Child protection: Measures not 'fit for purpose'
Measures put in place to protect children from sex offenders after they have been released from prison are not 'fit for purpose' according to an independent panel of child protection experts, reports the BBC. The experts have concluded that civil...
Assisted dying: Lord Falconer tables new law as latest cases reach Court of Appeal
Tory peer Lord Falconer has announced that he will table a new bill aimed at legalising assisted suicide for patients with a terminal illness deemed to have fewer than six months to live, as two more cases on the matter...
Motoring law: UK SatNav users face fines for detecting speed cameras abroad
UK motorists could face fines for using their SatNav devices to detect fixed-speed cameras whilst driving abroad, reports The Daily Mirror. It is a little-known fact that the UK is one of only two European nations that legally allow the...
Personal injury: London cyclist seeks change in the law after 'dooring' incident
London cyclist Kevin Fallon is suing a driver and their passenger after being 'doored' in 2010. As well as seeking £200,000 in damages, Mr Fallon would like the law changed so that liability is presumed against car users, reports The...
Abuse: Leading barrister calls for age of sexual consent to be lowered
A leading barrister has courted controversy with a statement describing sexual crimes committed by broadcaster Stuart Hall as 'low level misdemeanours' and recommending that the legal age of consent for sex be lowered to 13, reports The Daily Telegraph. Barbara...
Queen's Speech 2013: New laws on immigration but no space for gay marriage
The Queen's Speech at the State Opening of Parliament yesterday included a raft of new laws aimed at curbing immigration, binge drinking and placing a cap on social care costs, but gay marriage was yet again absent from the legislative...