Do You Know the Legal Essentials for Business?

Are you looking forward to starting your own business in Australia? If so, you really must understand what laws apply to your new business and carefully make sure you comply with all the legal requirements.

Ensuring your company meets all its legal responsibilities will protect it from legal litigation and enable you to focus better on business growth.

To help you out, and make sure you tick every box, you can consult a legal expert or qualified business solicitor to understand the different legal obligations of your new Sydney business or startup.

This article has developed a list of legal essentials that every new business owner must know in order to establish a strong foundation and protect their business.

Business Registrations and Licences

When conducting a business, you might be required to comply with tax obligations. Thus, you might need to register your business for:

  • Australian Business Number (ABN): A unique 11-digit number identifies your business to the local government and community for ordering and invoicing, claiming goods and service tax (GST) and energy grant credits, and get an Australian name.
  • Goods and Services Tax (GST): This is a tax of 10% on most of the goods and services sold or bought in Australia. You can ask your business solicitors to register your company for GST. After registering for GST, you need to collect the extra money from customers and pay it to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) on its due date. 
  • Tax File Number (TFN): This is a unique number issued by ATO to organisations and individuals.
  • Pay As You Go (PAYG) Withholding: comply with PAYG withholding obligations if you pay your employees, contractors with voluntary contracts and businesses who don’t give you their ABN.
  • Business:  Which provide home building services must hold a licence or be employed by a licence holder.
  • Real Estate Agents:  Stock and business agents must hold a licence or be employed by a licence holder. Business Name: When you trade under any name that is not your actual name.

Other optional business registrations include:

  •  Trademarks: When wanting exclusive rights to a business name, consider registering a trademark.
  • Website Domains: Consider registering a domain name when setting up a website.


As a business owner, when you agree to do a job in exchange for a consideration (money or another benefit), you are probably entering a commercial contract. Whether the contract is written or verbal, it’s legally enforceable.

And non-fulfilment of the contract can lead to a litigation suit for which you might need to hire commercial litigation lawyers to defend your interest in court. So, it’s advised to understand the commercial contract before signing.

Some businesses are required to issue contract is forms specified in regulations such as home building contract and agency agreements.

Privacy Laws

Your business must comply with local Sydney privacy laws if it collects and stores its existing and potential customers’ personal information. These laws guide how a company must handle personal information, primarily when used for direct marketing.

It’s helpful to go through the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner checklist to determine whether your company needs to comply with the Australian Privacy Principles.

Intellectual Property

If your business has intellectual property (IP), you need to protect it. An IP right can be anything, from a name to a creation and an idea that is written down or otherwise recorded.

Before applying for your intellectual property right, where applicable, it’s a must to search comprehensively to ensure it’s not already registered. If you cannot register IP, you can seek professional help from business solicitors in Sydney. Copyright ownership is not registered or otherwise recorded so you need to be able to prove that you created a copyright work and the date/s when it was created.

Environmental Protections

In Australia, businesses must comply with the environmental protection laws administered by the federal, state, and local governments. As a business owner, you must understand which rules apply to your company.

You can get an environmental audit, set up an environmental management system, and check government requirements to ensure your business meets local environmental protection laws and zoning requirements.

Marketing compliance

Whenever you plan to market your products and services, it’s a must for your business to comply with relevant regulations.

The government specifies marketing regulations to prevent enterprises from misleading their customers. These regulations include several laws on misleading and deceptive conduct, anti-competitive activities, advertising, spam emails, signage, pricing, and licensing for using music in advertising campaigns.

Employment Laws

Your business has legal obligations that it must meet when recruiting people. And these obligations require you to:

  • Pay your employees fair wages which are equal to or exceeding any Modern Award, Enterprise Agreement or the minimum wage (if applicable).
  • Comply with the work and health safety (WHS) regulations and codes of practice.
  • Not act in a way that might damage your employee’s reputation, discriminate against the employee or cause humiliation or mental distress.
  • Ensure your company provides workers’ compensation insurance for each employee.

Anti-Bullying Laws

Bullying at work can be defined as repeated, unreasonable behaviour of a person or group of people towards a worker that might even put that worker’s health or safety at risk.

You should know that harassment and bullying in the workplace can lead to claims against you in the Fair Work Commission or the Australian Human Rights Commission. You should consult your litigation lawyers about the steps you can take to reduce your potential liability.

Unfair Dismissal

If you are a small business owner, you should know the Small Business Fair Dismissal Code and follow the specified process when dismissing an employee. This particular code applies to businesses with less than fifteen employees. Larger businesses have different rules and lesser protections against unfair dismissal claims.

Importing and Exporting

If you want to import or export goods and services, it’s a must for your business to follow specific laws and permits. So, understand your legal requirements for importing and exporting as a part of your business operations.

For instance, imported goods must clear customs through the Australian Border Force (ABF). And when exporting goods, contact customs authorities to check whether there are any custom requirements on the same goods.

Policies on a Website

If you are considering running your business digitally, you must include your policies on your site. Some standard policies include: your business’ terms and conditions and privacy and returns policy.

For instance, terms and conditions can help visitors, users, and customers know how they can use your website.

Seeing as your customers might not directly interact with you before buying a product or service, the terms and conditions on your site can act as a contract between your business and the customer.

The Bottom Line

Starting a business in Sydney is exciting. But it also involves several legal steps that must be undertaken while complying with all applicable laws.

Following legal requirements is crucial to ensure your business remains compliant and profitable.

Non-compliance with mandatory business laws and regulations can result in penalties and legal repercussions such as lawsuits. In such cases, consider hiring commercial litigation lawyers to defend your business in court and protect its interest should that occasion arise.

If you follow the guidelines carefully and seek professional help when unsure or simply for peace of mind knowing you have everything covered, you are sure to have a wonderful start to your new business!

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