The year 2024, comes new challenges and opportunities for businesses of all sizes and industries. However, it also brings new risks and pitfalls that could jeopardize your business’s success and reputation if you are not careful. To help you avoid some of the most common legal mistakes that businesses make, we have compiled a list of the top 10 legal mistakes to avoid in 2024, based on our extensive research. Here they are:
- Not doing the right searches
- Not registering your business properly
- Not having a written contract with your partners, suppliers, customers, or employees.
- Not protecting your confidential information and trade secrets.
- Not complying with data protection and privacy laws.
- Not having a clear and effective social media policy
- Not having adequate insurance coverage.
- Not paying your taxes on time and accurately.
- Not keeping up with the changes in the law.
- Not seeking legal help when needed.
1. Not Doing The Right Searches.
Before you launch or rebrand your business, you should do thorough searches to make sure that your business name, logo, domain name, and other brand assets are not already taken or trademarked by someone else. This will prevent you from infringing on someone else’s intellectual property rights and facing legal action or having to change your name or logo later on.
2. Not Registering Your Business Properly.
Depending on the type and size of your business, you may need to register it with the relevant authorities, such as the Corporate Affairs Commission, the Federal Inland Revenue Service, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, etc. You may also need to obtain certain licenses, permits, or certifications to operate legally and comply with the applicable laws and regulations. Failing to register your business properly could result in fines, penalties, or even closure of your business.
3. Not Having a Written Contract With Your Partners, Suppliers, Customers, or Employees.
A written contract is a legal document that outlines the terms and conditions of your relationship with another party, such as your partners, suppliers, customers, or employees. It helps to clarify expectations, responsibilities, rights, and obligations, and to prevent misunderstandings, disputes, or lawsuits. A written contract should be clear, concise, and signed by both parties. You should also review and update your contracts regularly to reflect any changes in your business or the law.
4. Not Protecting Your Confidential Information And Trade Secrets.
Confidential information and trade secrets are valuable assets that give your business a competitive edge in the market. They include things like your business plans, strategies, formulas, processes, customer lists, etc. You should take steps to protect your confidential information and trade secrets from unauthorized access, use, or disclosure, such as using non-disclosure agreements, encryption, passwords, firewalls, etc. You should also educate your employees, partners, and suppliers about the importance of confidentiality and the consequences of breaching it.
5. Not Complying With Data Protection And Privacy Laws.
Data protection and privacy laws are designed to protect the personal information of individuals from misuse, abuse, or theft. They require businesses to collect, store, use, and share personal information in a lawful, fair, and transparent manner, and to respect the rights and choices of individuals regarding their personal information. Some of the data protection and privacy laws that may apply to your business in 2024 are the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation, the General Data Protection Regulation, and the African Union Convention on Cyber Security and Personal Data Protection. You should familiarize yourself with these laws and implement appropriate policies and practices to comply with them.
6. Not Having A Clear And Effective Social Media Policy.
Social media is a powerful tool for marketing, communication, and engagement, but it also poses some risks and challenges for businesses. For example, your employees, customers, or competitors may post negative, false, or defamatory comments about your business, or your business may inadvertently violate someone else’s intellectual property rights or privacy rights by posting or sharing content without permission. To avoid these issues, you should have a clear and effective social media policy that defines the purpose, scope, and rules of your business’s social media presence, and that educates and trains your employees, partners, and suppliers on how to use social media responsibly and ethically.
7. Not Having Adequate Insurance Coverage.
Insurance is a form of risk management that helps you protect your business from unforeseen events or circumstances that could cause financial loss or damage, such as fire, theft, vandalism, natural disasters, accidents, lawsuits, etc. You should have adequate insurance coverage for your business, depending on the nature and size of your business, and the level of risk you are willing to take. Some of the types of insurance that you may need for your business are property insurance, liability insurance, workers’ compensation insurance, business interruption insurance, cyber insurance, etc. You should consult with a professional insurance broker or agent to find the best insurance plan for your business.
8. Not Paying Your Taxes On Time And Accurately.
Taxes are mandatory payments that you have to make to the government based on your income, profits, sales, or other criteria. Paying your taxes on time and accurately is not only a legal obligation, but also a social responsibility and a good business practice. Failing to pay your taxes on time and accurately could result in fines, penalties, interest, audits, or even criminal charges. You should keep accurate and complete records of your income and expenses, and file your tax returns on time. You should also seek professional advice from a qualified accountant or tax consultant to help you with your tax matters.
9. Not Keeping Up With The Changes In The Law.
The law is constantly evolving and changing to reflect the changing needs and expectations of society. As a business owner, you have to keep up with the changes in the law that affect your business and your industry, and to adapt and adjust accordingly. Ignorance of the law is not an excuse, and you could face legal consequences if you violate or fail to comply with the law. You should stay informed and updated on the latest developments and trends in the law, and seek legal advice from a competent lawyer when in doubt or in need of guidance.
10. Not Seeking Legal Help When Needed.
Sometimes, you may encounter a legal issue or problem that is beyond your knowledge or expertise, or that requires a professional opinion or intervention. In such cases, you should not hesitate to seek legal help from a qualified lawyer who can assist you with your legal matter. A lawyer can help you understand your legal rights and obligations, advise you on the best course of action, represent you in negotiations or litigation, and protect your interests and reputation. Trying to handle a legal issue or problem on your own could result in more harm than good, and could cost you more time, money, and stress in the long run.
These are some of the top 10 legal mistakes to avoid in 2024, but they are not the only ones. You should always be vigilant and proactive in managing your legal affairs, and seek professional help when needed. By doing so, you can avoid legal troubles and focus on growing and succeeding in your business.