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In New Zealand, a business lawyer can provide you with legal advice or represent you in a legal dispute that relates to a business matter. For example, some business-related legal issues include:

  • choosing a structure for your business;
  • getting appropriate IP and trade mark protection;
  • drafting your terms and conditions;
  • managing your tax obligations; and 
  • complying with regulations in your industry. 

Whether you are starting a business in New Zealand, or experiencing growth or other changes, a business lawyer can help you make commercially sound decisions and protect your business and personal assets from liability. This article lists five key areas to discuss with your business lawyer. 

1. How Can Your Business Lawyer Help You Structure for Your Business?

Choosing the right structure for your business is a crucial part of setting up your business. Some common structures in New Zealand include sole proprietorship, general or limited partnership and company. Your choice has important legal and financial implications, so it is essential to understand your legal obligations under each structure.

A business lawyer can help you compare different business structures and complete other essential startup business tasks, such as:

  • register your business name;
  • conduct checks on existing company names, trade marks and domain names;
  • register with the NZBN or incorporate your limited liability company with the Companies Office;
  • apply for an NZBN and a tax file number;
  • register your business for GST and PAYE; and
  • provide you with legal advice on whether a dual company structure or discretionary trust structure is suitable.

A business lawyer can also help you change your company name, apply to reserve a name and draft key company documents such as shareholders agreements, company constitutions and employment contracts.

2. How Can Your Business Lawyer Help You Protect Your IP?

Your intellectual property is one of the factors that differentiates your business from your competitors. It includes important assets such as:

  • your business name;
  • critical brand assets such as your logo;
  • your trade secrets; and 
  • creative processes and inventions. 

As your business grows, it is essential to protect your intangible assets from infringement. An intellectual property lawyer can help you register a trade mark, patent your inventions, and protect your trade secrets and confidential information. For example, by:

  • adding a clause to your employment contracts to protect your trade secrets or processes when your employees leave; and
  • drafting robust confidentiality agreements to protect your intellectual property in your relationship with suppliers and partners.

3. What Should You Include in Your Business Terms and Conditions?

Your business terms and conditions set out the rights and responsibilities of each party when entering into a transaction. They can help you minimise the likelihood of a dispute arising with a customer, and protect your business when this occurs.

A business lawyer can help you tailor your terms and conditions to the specific needs of your business and industry. For example, they can help you draft or review your:

  • client agreement or service terms, if you provide services to customers;
  • sales terms and conditions (and website terms of use and privacy policy), if you run an e-commerce business or online store;
  • marketplace terms and conditions with suppliers and customers, if you run a marketplace business; 
  • software-as-a-service (SaaS) terms and conditions, if you run a SaaS business; and
  • terms and conditions to ensure you comply with any obligations under New Zealand Consumer Law. 

4. How Can Your Business Lawyer Help You Meet Your Essential Tax Obligations?

As a business owner, understanding and complying with your tax obligations can seem daunting. However, this is a task you can easily delegate to your lawyer and tax agent. For instance, a business lawyer can help you choose the most advantageous tax structure for your business and help you navigate your way through the New Zealand tax system in a cost-effective manner. Specifically, tax law specialists can provide you with legal advice on:

  • initial tax structuring and restructuring;
  • business exits;
  • overseas expansion or foreign companies expanding into New Zealand;
  • employee share plans;
  • early-stage innovation company tax advice;
  • Inland revenue objections and reviews;
  • income tax, GST and duty issues for property developers; and
  • estate planning.

5. How Can Your Business Lawyer Help You Minimise Industry-Related Risks?

You will face specific risks that relate to your industry and type of business. While you can minimise some of these risks by having contracts in place and structuring your business wisely, other risks will require insurance cover. Your business lawyer can help you assess these risks and identify ways to alleviate them.

Key Takeaways 

If you are planning to start a business, establishing a good relationship with a business lawyer can be beneficial for many reasons, especially if you are not planning to hire an in-house lawyer straight away. Having access to business legal advice can help you get your business on the right track to success. This is because they can help you make commercially sound decisions and protect your business from liability as it grows and changes. 

If you need help with structuring your business, protecting your IP, drafting your business terms and conditions, or understanding your tax obligations, LegalVision’s business lawyers can help. Call 0800 005 570 or fill out the form on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a business lawyer do?

A business lawyer can help you with business-related legal matters. These include how to choose the best structure for your business, register a trade mark, patent an invention or protect your IP, draft your business terms and conditions and other vital contracts, manage your tax obligations and comply with regulations in your industry.

Can your business lawyer help you structure your business?

A business lawyer can help you decide on the best legal structure for your business and register with the NZBN or incorporate your company with the New Zealand Companies Office. This decision has important legal and financial implications, so it is crucial to understand your obligations under each structure and decide what the most suitable setup for your business is.

Do you need a lawyer to draft your business terms and conditions?

Even though you can have a go at drafting your business terms and conditions yourself, you need to ensure that you provide certainty about your customers’ rights and protect your business from potential disputes. Never copy the terms and conditions from another business, as yours should be tailored to the specific needs of your business and industry and ensure you comply with any obligations under New Zealand Consumer Law. If you are unsure, you should ask your business lawyer to review your terms and conditions before you start using them.

How much do business lawyers charge in New Zealand?

Most lawyers in New Zealand charge hourly rates. A lawyer’s hourly rate varies depending on their experience, speciality areas and the law firm’s overheads. On average, prices range from $200-600 an hour. More lawyers are choosing to adopt the fixed-fee model. Under this model, you are quoted a flat rate for specific matters, so you can easily compare the cost of different legal service providers.

About LegalVision: LegalVision is a tech-driven, full-service commercial law firm that uses technology to deliver a faster, better quality and more cost-effective client experience.

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