Given that there are countless retail leases on foot in Australia, it’s not surprising that this is one of the most common areas of small business disputes. Sadly, it is often the tenant who is caught off guard after signing a landlord friendly lease and it’s all too common for tenants to wait until a dispute has arisen before familiarising themselves with their rights and obligations under their retail lease.

Be a savvy and forward-thinking tenant and consider these things before signing a retail lease:

Retail Lease v Commercial Lease

First things first, is the lease you’re entering into a commercial or retail lease? The…

Whether you are in the initial stages of fleshing out an exciting new business idea or have registered your trading entity and are ready to go, here are 5 things to consider in the early stages of launching a start-up.


A search of the Australian Trade Mark Registry is an important first step before deciding on a business name and branding of your business. A trademark is the primary means of protecting your brand from competitors and forms a core component of your company’s intellectual property. …

Do you ever wonder whether your business complies with all of the regulation that’s out there? Is there something in shadows, just waiting to catch you out? Ok, that introduction sounds ominous but bare with me, I’m not trying to scare you. However, I do want to draw your attention to the way franchising regulations may affect you, even if you don’t see yourself as a franchise.

As a business lawyer, my clients tend to see me when they are preparing to scale and grow. Often, they’ve already workshopped their growth model, and re-jigged their business plan to factor in…

Medical practitioners in private practice have for many years used service entities to separate the administrative aspects of operating a medical clinic from the provision of medical services. Effective use of this arrangement gives practitioners an opportunity to implement tax effective business structures. They also limit a clinic’s exposure to claims made against individual practitioners. However, poorly drafted service agreements can have a significant adverse impact your clinic, particularly if the practitioners who practice in the clinic are deemed employees of the clinic.

How do service arrangements work?

The operation of a medical clinic, regardless of its size, can be divided into two broad tasks:

The Estate Agents (General, Accounts and Audit) Regulations 2018 came into operation on 20 May 2018. The changes are relevant to the sale and purchase of a small business in Victoria.


For those unfamiliar with the area, vendors of a small business in Victoria must give a purchaser a prescribed statement under section 52 of the Estate Agents Act 1980. This ‘section 52 statement’:

  • must be given prior to the purchaser signing the contract of sale or the vendor accepting a deposit; and
  • sets important financial details about the business, including its assets, profits and losses.

A vendor’s failure to…

In an earlier post, I explained business relationship documents and their role in protecting a business from the risks of disputes between co-owners. This article takes that a bit further. I’ve set out below details of a real world business dispute. I have also identified how this client would have benefited from having business relationship documents governing their affairs.

First, a disclaimer: the case study relates to an actual client that I have assisted. For obvious reasons, I have altered some of the facts to ensure that my client cannot be identified.


When you get into business with another person…

I recently explained why all business owners need a will, and the consequences of not having one. I also touched, but didn’t elaborate, on the concept of estate planning. This involves (among other things):

  • putting in place mechanisms that protect your legacy;
  • utilising tax effective strategies that benefit your survivors;
  • factoring in any superannuation benefits and life insurance policies that come into play; and
  • making provision for the management of your affairs if you were to lose decision-making capacity.

A testamentary trust will is a key component of an effective estate plan. I will explain why in more detail shortly…

This post deviates from my usual startup and business focus, by discussing a topic most people would prefer to ignore: your will. Why you ask? Well, look at it this way: what is the point of building a successful business if you don’t properly plan for handing that over to your survivors upon your eventual death? Estate and succession planning is an important component of building wealth, and I’ll tackle these issues from time to time. So, on that note, here is a quick rundown of why you need a will.

As with most of my articles, this post takes…

Have you ever thought about what’s in your business terms and conditions? Believe it or not, it is quite common for small businesses and startups to cobble together their trading terms, often from material they’ve found online. Those same businesses often wonder why they have issues in collecting payments from customers, and lament their inability to take enforcement action.

The reality is every supplier of goods and services must have suitable terms of trade governing the customer relationship. Importantly, there are a number of issues to address in these documents, to ensure that you are protected, and that your business…

Buying property seems to be one of those things that is ingrained in Australian culture. Buy, invest, build, repeat — the road to building a property portfolio. Even with the current property slump, my clients are not overly worried, choosing instead to focus on the upside of potentially buying at a discount.

So what do buyers need to know from a legal perspective when buying property? This practical guide should help. A quick note before you read on though: this guide is written with Victorian property buyers in mind. …

Sami Sara

Sami Sara is The Bearded Lawyer, offering tips, tricks and practical advice for startups and small businesses.

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