CompTIA has released its UK Legal Playbook to help support its growing membership. The book is available exclusively to CompTIA members and can be accessed by visiting my.CompTIA.org, the association’s members-only web portal. At 34 pages in length, it is an interesting read.
“We anticipate CompTIA UK members will find the UK Legal Playbook valuable to their businesses’ overall health and security,” said Courtney Fong, Chief Operating Officer at CompTIA.
“The UK Legal Playbook gives members a vocabulary for conversations with their solicitors, as well as specific issues to consider when seeking legal representation for their businesses’ unique needs.”
What is in the book?
The book provides a guide to what you need to think about when setting up a company. It starts with the options of different types of companies and goes on to talk about choosing a name and other things. The sections include:
- Setting Up a Business – The Options
- Choosing a Name
- Key Contracts with Customers
- Important Provisions in Contracts
- Common Types of Contracts in the IT/Tech Sector
- Independent Contractor or Employee?
- Getting Help – Employing Others
- Intellectual Property
- Data Protection
- Common Legal and Business Issues
Some useful examples
For anyone new to setting up a business, there are some useful gems in there, especially in terms of what type of company to create and why. There are also some really useful pieces on what should be in your first contract with a client and how to make it fair. It’s an area that many struggle with and often pay the price for.
For example, it talks about the important provisions in contracts. One provision it covers off is making sure you deal with changes to the scope of work. It is too easy to accede to a client’s request to keep them happy. The book states, “there needs to be a change to the scope of the work, who is responsible for requesting changes, how any changes will be agreed on (if at all) and documented, and what the impact will be on the price or the timing.”
It also goes on to talk about setting the right price for the job. “A trap that many IT/tech SMEs often initially fall into with their first few jobs is to give a fixed price for a job without having fully determined the scope of the job – that can be a very painful learning curve. The IT/tech supplier should avoid giving a fixed price if they can but if they have to (to get the job) then they need to set out in the contract very clearly the assumptions on which the fixed price has been given so that they have some wiggle room if those assumptions prove to be erroneous.”
The section on dispute resolution is also one that should be read and noted carefully. Read the small print. If in doubt, send it to your own lawyers. Do not allow the client to just dictate the jurisdiction for any complaints. If you do, you can find yourself in a no-win situation. Your own lawyers will also find other clauses in the contract that are worth challenging and for which you should seek alternative wording.
Enterprise Times: What does this mean?
Most people setting up their first business will have hit these problems before. However, it never hurts to provide a concise guide as to what to expect and how to deal with it and that is what CompTIA has done. It would also have been easy to overwrite this and make it a large and complex tome of knowledge. Full marks for not doing so.
If there were one section that I would have added, it would be around insurance, especially areas like professional indemnity insurance. My experience of working with large companies is that most like you to carry several million in insurance which can mean paying hundreds per month in premiums. It can also require you to have specific processes to make sure that you are legally covered. This is particularly important where you might use contractors.
Overall, this is a useful primer and one worth reading.