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Don’t be afraid to seek legal advice

Posted on 15 May 2019

Don’t be afraid to seek legal advice

Dean Hayward, Sales and Marketing Manager at NMBS, explains why access to prompt, accurate legal advice is vital for a builders’ merchant.

However successful your business may be, there will always be times when you will need access to legal advice. This can be thanks to a planned expansion, such as the purchase of a new business or commercial premises, or in order to pursue an outstanding debt, employment issues or contract disputes. All these issues – and many others besides – require appropriate, experienced legal counsel to make sure that contracts are drawn up correctly, issues are resolved, and the merchant’s business is protected as it continues to grow.

Independent business owners want to be able to invest their time in developing their business, pursuing new opportunities and becoming as successful as possible – not on investigating complex legal issues. For smaller businesses in particular, who may not be able to justify having an in-house legal team, having a contract with a specialist solicitors is a sensible precaution to cover any issue they may face.

But finding the right legal representation can be a challenge in itself. Some solicitors practice law exclusively for the commercial sector, while others may focus on employment law or debt recovery, but business owners are more likely to want to find one firm that can act as a single point of contact for every legal issue they may face.

Some of the common legal issues affecting merchant businesses include:

·         Purchase and sale of commercial premises and businesses. As independent merchants expand they often need to move to larger sites, buy additional premises, or even have the opportunity to expand through acquisition. Any such sale or purchase requires the drawing up of legal contracts, due diligence and many other documents, such as non-disclosure and confidentiality agreements. All of these must be completely accurate and thoroughly researched to ensure the transaction goes smoothly.

·         Debt recovery. Non-payment of accounts is one of the main risks that independent merchants face. However carefully customers’ businesses are checked before being allowed to buy goods on account, cash-flow issues can creep up on even the most successful construction businesses, leaving merchants potentially thousands of pounds out of pocket. Attempting to recover these debts can take up many hours of time for merchants, but legal firms can pursue these debts on the company’s behalf. 

·         Personal injury/third-party liability claims. However strong a merchant’s health and safety record, accidents can happen, and the nature of the merchant business means any accident could be potentially serious. Be it from an employee or customer, any merchant facing a claim for personal injury or compensation will need specialist legal advice to ensure their business is protected, and the issue resolved quickly.

·         Employment disputes. Every business will, at some point, need to deal with an employee dispute. This could be as part of a general redundancy period, an employee being dismissed for gross misconduct, or to deal with general employee rights issues. The regulations surrounding this area can be incredibly complex, and merchants must tread carefully to ensure they are always on the right side of the law.

NMBS members can access legal advice through Smith Partnership Solicitors, which offers commercial legal services for businesses of all sizes.

Smith Partnership specialises in trade merchant and construction industry dispute resolutions, and has extensive knowledge of the intricacies of the construction industry, making them particularly well-placed to advise independent builders’ merchants. It also offers Activate – an online debt recovery service that can ensure the recovery of any owed monies in the shortest possible time.             


Alison Neate, Partner at Smith Partnership, said: “NMBS members can access expert legal advice with Smith Partnership at preferential rates. Legal issues are inevitable in any size of business, from acquiring premises to resolving trading disputes, recovering outstanding sales ledgers and optimising cashflow, to dealing with staff employment issues. Commercially astute, practical advice delivered promptly in a modern way is a vital tool for business owners, preventing their valuable time from being taken up with distracting issues.”

For more information, contact Alison Neate on 0116 247 2001.

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